From ET Realty
NEW DELHI: Union environment ministry has notified a new sustainable sand mining policy, seeking to strike a balance between construction needs and environmental concerns of the country.
Under the new policy, the states and local authorities have been advised by the Centre to use technology like android application (App), GPS and unique bar-coding system to track the vehicles of illegal miners and those who indulge in exploiting the natural resources beyond permissible limit.
The policy has provisions of strict monitoring of ongoing sand mining activities and crackdown against illegal operation that has reportedly been rampant in many states.
The provisions include penalty against the illegal miners which may include confiscation of vehicles carrying illegally mined sand, recovering huge amount (five to 10 times of the market value of the seized minerals) and seizures of all the equipments or machineries involved in mining in non-leased areas.
Announcing the notification of the new policy, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday noted that the move was a major reform which would take care of both the development needs and the environmental concerns.
Under the new policy, the states will have to create a robust mechanism to monitor the mining operation and measure the mined out mineral.
Guidelines under the new policy provide criteria for sustainable sand mining (both in-stream and off-channel extraction), giving detailed parameters which can be used by the state and central agencies for issuing mining lease for smaller and bigger tracts, respectively, keeping in mind the ecological concerns of a particular area.
Besides suggesting many dos and don’ts for the authorities who grant lease to miners, the environment ministry’s notification has also created an exemption list where certain categories of users may be allowed sand mining keeping in view maintenance of infrastructure, abatement of disasters and property rights.
Extraction of ordinary clay or sand manually by potters and earthen tile makers, removal of sand deposited on agricultural field after flood by farmers and dredging and de-silting of dam, reservoirs, barrage and canals are kept under the ‘exempt’ categories in the new policy.
The government had come out with these guidelines in September last year. Thereafter, the ministry held a number of consultations with the stakeholders including states and environmentalists. The new policy has finally been notified, incorporating all the suggestions during those consultations and discussions in the past over three months.