Mining industry is not only important for strengthening economy of the State, but is also providing gainful employment to the people. Demand of sand, grit, stone etc. for various developmental works and other domestic requirement is persistently rising. Heavy pressure on natural resources makes it imperative that these natural resources are scientifically and judiciously harnessed.
The State Government has imposed complete ban on mining without seeking environmental clearance in accordance with the orders of Hon'ble National Green Tribunal. At the same time, the Government is also ensuring that the pace of development in the State does not hamper for want of minerals, therefore scientific mining is being encouraged.
Himachal Pradesh Mineral Policy-2013 was notified in the State on 24th August, 2013, for ensuring scientific mining. Himachal Pradesh River/Stream Bed Mineral Policy Guidelines-2004 has been incorporated in this Policy to make it more realistic and pragmatic. The main object of this is to preserve precious mineral wealth of the State, besides checking illegal mining. Provision of issuing letter of intent has been made for early approval of environmental related approvals so that mining activities are carried out smoothly.
As per the Himachal Pradesh Minor Minerals (Concession) and Minerals (Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage) Rules, 2015 no lease would be provided respect of land within a distance of two kilometers from the immediate outer limits of Municipal Corporation/Municipal Committee, one kilometer from the immediate outer limits of Nagar Panchayat. In addition, no mining lease would be granted upto 100 meters from the edge of National Highway/Express way, 25meters from the edge of State Highway and 10 meters from the edge of other roads. Apart from it no mining lease would be granted upto 200 meter above and below water supply/irrigation schemes and 200 meter above bridges and 200 to 500 meter below any bridge.
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. Usually it has been observed that transportation of illegal mining is carried out at night. Therefore, the Government has imposed ban on transportation of minerals in border areas from 8 PM to 6AM.
To maintain transparency in auction of mining sites, the State Government is going for open auction for mineral quarries. Recently 14 minor mineral quarries were auctioned for Rs. 3.95 crore in Hamirpur district. Similarly, 13 quarries were auctioned in Kangra district for Rs 2.21 crore and 20 quarries were auctioned in Sirmour district for Rs. 29 crore.
In the interest of environmental and mineral conservation, the State Government has decided to permit use of raw material and waste generated from developmental activities such as construction of roads, tunnels and power projects etc. by stone crusher units. This would not only curb illegal mining but also help in meeting out the growing demand of mineral in the market.
The State Government has notified its first State Mineral Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Industries Minister. This Committee would ensure planned and scientific mining and gives its suggestions to the State Government for better management of mining areas. The procedure for obtaining mining lease on private land for the brick kilns has
been simplified. Joint inspections are being conducted by the concerned Sub Divisional Magistrate, Mining Officer and representative from the Pollution Control Board.
In order to curb illegal mining the State Government has notified Himachal Pradesh Minor Minerals (Concession) and Minerals (Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage) Rules, 2015on 13th March, this year. Provision of stringent punishment has been made for those involved in illegal mining. Imprisonment upto two years or fine uptoRs. 25,000 or both has been made for those involved in illegal mining of minerals, their transportation and holding.
The compounding offence of illegal mining has been linked with quantity of mining illegally extracted and compounding fee of Rs. 400 per metric tonne is being charged rom the offender, in addition to the minimum compounding fee of Rs. 10,000. Earlier, the rate was fixed for Rs. 10,000 for any quality of mineral extracted. The defaulters are being fined a minimum amount of Rs. 25,000 when illegal mining is done mechanically in river/stream beds. Similarly, the compounding fee for illegal storage/stacking of mineral would not be less than Rs. 25,000 plus the market sale price of the total material stored illegally on the spot. The compounding fee for illegal transportation of would now be not less than Rs 4500 for tractor, Rs. 7000 for medium truck/tipper, Rs. 10,000 for truck of 10 MT and Rs. 15,000 for truck with capacity of more than 10MT.
These efforts of the State Government have borne fruits. Illegal mining has been curtailed and scientific mining is being encouraged. This has ensured easy availability of construction material for developmental works as well as for the requirement of common man and has also ensured environment conservation.