To streamline mining sector in the State, the state government strengthening legal framework and making inspection/enforcement more frequent. Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri revealed today that the State Government has amended Mineral Policy in 2013 and it has made incumbent upon the concerned departments to file FIR in case of damage to the properties of PWD, I&PH, Revenue Department etc.

The Minister revealed that Himachal Pradesh River/Stream Bed Mineral Policy Guidelines-2004 has been incorporated in this Policy to make it more realistic and pragmatic.

Industries Minister said that minor mineral sites were being auctioned in a transparent manner to meet out the burgeoning demand of material like sand, stone, bajri etc. He said that this has not only ensured check on illegal mining but also earned revenue to State exchequer.

He said that the Government has auctioned 47 numbers of potential mineral bearing sites for a sum of Rs. 35.86 crore on annual bid basis.

The Minister said the auction process for rest of the districts was in pipeline and remaining quarries will be auctioned in near future. This endeavor of the Government would not only fetch handsome revenue to the State exchequer but also curb illegal mining as vulnerable sites would no more remain open/ free hold and susceptible to illegal mining, he added.

Agnihotri said that in order to facilitate the applicants for obtaining mineral concession, the State Government has decided to issue Letter of intent, enabling the applicant to obtain pre requisite environmental clearances. He said that atleast 150 illegal roads have been identified and closed to check illegal mining during this period.

Agnihotri said that a new Minor Mineral Rules, 2015 had been notified to streamline the process of exploiting minor minerals apart from providing deterrent penalties of prosecution and fine up-to Rs. 50, 000 for various violations. He said that the State Government has detected 29,371 cases of illegal mining during the present tenure of the State Government and imposed fine of Rs 14.56 crore of the violators as compared to only 16376 cases of illegal mining detected and mere Rs 4.94 crore fine imposed during the five years tenure of the previous State Government. He said that in addition, 25 JCBs, 17 trucks and 10 tractors were impounded during this period and heft fines imposed on the owners.

Industries Minister said that to bring accountability and to exercise greater control on illegal mining, the department of Industries has evolved an inspection and reporting system in the hierarchical order, wherein, every Officers/Officials of the department would have to undertake inspections of crusher/leases on mandated frequency and report to his immediate superior about the action taken by him in the field against illegal mining. He said the role of each and every Officer/Official of the Mining Department has been defined and non-performing of duties would invite disciplinary action against such officials. Further, the role and performance of every Field Officers /Officials would be reviewed at the Directorate level.