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State to bring in new mining rules to evade environmental clearance

The Asian Age , Friday, October 11, 2013

The state government has decided to formulate new mining rules to evade environmental clearance that was made mandatory by the Supreme Court. A proposal in this regard will be put up before the next meeting of the state Cabinet. It is likely to be based on the rules framed by the Rajasthan government recently.

Earlier, the state revenue department used to permit mining of minor minerals to private players in areas of less than five hectares. Construction materials such as sand, stones, gravel and clay are classified as minor minerals.

But, the Supreme Court in its judgment of February, 2012, made the environmental clearance mandatory for mining of minor mineral, including sand from river beds even areas less than 5 hectares. The apex court ruling was clear that sand mining on either river bank, up stream and in stream is a cause of environmental degradation and threat to biodiversity, therefore required monitoring and regulatory oversight.

Since then the mining process has been completely stopped across the country including Maharashtra. Industries minister Narayan Rane raised the issue in the state Cabinet meet held on Wednesday. He said that due to the Supreme Court ruling, the mining process has been completely stalled, which had a negative effect on the construction business, according to the sources.

“It has also affected the development work of the state. We need to find a way out of it like Rajasthan, which has recently made some rules to evade the compulsion of environment clearance,” Mr Rane told the Cabinet, said a senior minister on the condition of anonymity.

The industries minister was so aggressive over the issue that he urged the Cabinet to take the decision on the matter on Wednesday itself. All the ministers present in the meet supported him. At last, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat was asked to make a proposal in the next Cabinet meet.