Concerned over large scale illegal sand mining across states, the Union mines ministry has convened meeting of all states and Union Territories next week to discuss the legal and administrative frameworks in place in each state to govern sand mining and the actual experience of states in handling such cases.
Sand is a minor mineral under Section 23C of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and states have been granted powers to frame rules regarding illegal mining.
In a letter to mining departments of all states and Union Territories including early this week, the ministry said though sand was a minor mineral and was under jurisdiction of states, it has become necessary to examine whether the Centre should take some steps in assisting states to curb and eliminate illegal mining of sand, especially because there are serious environmental consequences that follow from this activity.
The illegal sand mining ws discussed at recent meetings of Parliamentary Standing Committees on water resources as well as steel and mines.
In the meeting to be held in Delhi next week over three days, the mining secretaries of each state and union territory would discuss with the mines ministry on steps taken by them to curb and eliminate illegal sand mining and prevent adverse consequences of illegal sand mining on environment.
Sources said states would also suggest as to what further needs to be done in this regard.
While Orissa and 11 other states including Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh would be consulted on October 29, Assam, Kerala and 11 other states would meet on October 30. The remaining 11 states and Union Territories would be consulted on October 31.
In a 2011 judgment on mining in Haryana the Supreme Court said that the increasing demand for sand due from building and construction sectors was placing immense pressure on the supply of the resource, which has led to mining activity — both legal and illegal.