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Himachal needs policy to check illegal mining

Himachal Pradesh,Business/Economy, Sat, 07 Apr 2012 IANS

Shimla, April 7 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh needs a comprehensive mining policy and requires to put in place a system to check illegal mines, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said.


The state has failed to recover Rs.23.03 crore as compounding fee till April 2011 and Rs.8.02 crore as non-imposition of penalty due to illegal mining from September 2006 to July 2010, said the CAG report tabled in the assembly Friday.


It said the illegal mining of minor minerals like building stone, boulders, ordinary clay and sand not only causes revenue loss to the state exchequer but also poses threat to the environment.


An audit review of mining activities from 2006-11 revealed that the government had neither made any assessment of the existence of the total minor minerals in the state nor prepared any vision document and comprehensive mining policy for its exploitation.


According to the report, the mineral resources, mostly existing in forest lands, remained untapped and stood exposed to illegal mining.


On setting up of check posts to check illegal activity, the CAG said except in Kangra district (out of the 12 districts in the state) no post has been established owing to shortage of staff.


The CAG asked the government to set up check posts in the authorised mining areas. It also suggested that transportation of materials on fictitious forms needs to be checked in order to eradicate menace of illegal mining in the state.


The state assembly witnessed heated exchanges this week when independent legislator Rakesh Pathania threatened to take up guns to fight the mining mafia that is active in Nurpur area of the state.


He alleged that Industries Minister Kishan Kapoor was protecting illegal mining.


"The government is losing more than Rs.200 crore per annum because of illegal mining. Where are you (minister) sleeping, and where is your mining staff," he said.


In his reply, Kapoor said demarcation of the mining areas has been done and those indulging in illegal mining have been heavily fined.


Even the 84-year-old railway bridge on the Chakki rivulet in the state was washed away due to flash floods in August last year. The bridge, which provides connectivity to narrow-gauge trains on the Pathankot-Joginder Nagar rail segment, has been reopened this month. It is located on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.


The Northern Railways had informed the Himachal Pradesh High Court that the bridge collapsed due to unscientific mining in the Chakki stream in Pathankot and Kangra districts.


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