Shimla – The Himachal Pradesh government has issued a final ultimatum to 231 mining sites, mandating that they secure Forest Conservation Act (FCA) clearance within six months or face the cancellation of their leases. This directive impacts nearly all mining sites allotted in the state since 2016, as only one out of 232 sites has obtained the necessary FCA clearance from the Government of India. The delay in clearance has prevented the state from realizing an expected revenue of ₹103 crore from these sites.

Industry Minister Harshvardhan Singh Chauhan announced the notice, emphasizing the critical need for compliance. “A final six-month notice has been given to all these mining leases. They must secure FCA clearance within this period, or the allotments will be canceled and re-auctioned. The state has already collected 25% of the amount from these allotments, which will be confiscated if clearance is not obtained,” he stated.

The government plans to overhaul the auction process to streamline future operations. Minister Chauhan indicated that the merging of smaller leases into larger ones is intended to ease the clearance process. He also revealed a significant shift in the management of dredging operations in the Beas River, affecting areas in Manali and Kullu. The responsibility for dredging has been transferred from the Mining Department to the Forest Corporation. This change follows a request from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and subsequent issues with dredging operations, where extracted materials were not deposited as directed.

Moving forward, all mining auctions will be conducted through the Forest Corporation to ensure better oversight and compliance. These changes aim to address the controversies that arose from the previous dredging activities and the misplacement of materials extracted from the Beas River.

In a related discussion, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshvardhan Chauhan commented on the frequent presence of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax officials during state elections. He suggested that such visits are aimed at destabilizing non-BJP governments.