Saturday, 12 November 2011

Uttarakhand New Mining and Quarrying Policy gets Cabinet approval

Written by Anil Singh

The Uttarakhand cabinet today approved the new mining policy, aimed at helping the state to earn more revenue through open bidding and end the stranglehold of the land mafia (by ending the foothold of the illegal operators which cause considerable revenue loss to the state).

The policy is also known as new mining/quarrying policy, and locally known as “khanan Niti”.

Key Points of the Uttarakhand’s New Mining and Quarrying Policy:

1) The first right of quarrying on up to 5 hectares of land would be given to its owner and no individual will be leased out the quarrying right for two areas.

2) Government will give land on open bidding on all those reserved areas where its main three agencies - Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) and Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation (UFDC) do not carry any river-bed mining.

3) The Uttarakhand Government has banned mining/quarrying on 15 meters areas from both the banks of the river.

4) The government will set up a watchdog to monitor the mining process; so that illegal mining activities and environmental concerns are reported and resolved in time.

The Government is already conducting surveys to identify mining areas in the state. For instance, the srvey conducted in this regard reported availability of a total of 900 hectare of area in Dehra Dun district alone for mining purposes.

The Govenrment hopes that the mining through auction process can provide higher revenue generation to the hill state; which will be in the range of Rs 300-400 crore; compared to Rs 100-150 crore through the collection of stones, boulders and other minor minerals from various rivers that include the Ganga in the State.

Whether the new mining policy will answer the environmental concerns is hard to say. As 15 metres limit on both sides of river bank is too close a restriction; to be implemented properly.

Environmentalists in Uttarakhand and India, feel that the river-bed mining helps in checking floods in the river due to over-deposition of boulders, silt and other sandy materials. A concern, echoes by the Honorable Nainital High Court as well, which directed the State government to formulate a new mining policy in view of mounting environmental concerns and involvement of land mafia in the business.

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