The Punjab government on Tuesday approved the Mining Policy-2012 for the auction of sand and stone mines in the state. It also approved the policy guidelines for the registration & working of stone crushers with a clause that environmental clearance fee would be borne by the contractor.
The state also increased the number of mines paving way to bring down the prices of sand and gravel.
Sources said that as per the new policy,the mines will be auctioned through e-tenders. The government has also gone back to the old system of awarding the contract to the highest bidder instead of the present system of lowest bidding on profit. Also,mines more than 5 hectares in size will be auctioned in sub blocks and not in one go as was being done earlier thus paving way for more bids.
A contractor who successfully bids for mining on land belonging to the government or gram panchayats will have to pay one-third of the money by cheque.
In a related development,the impact assessment committee of Punjab Pollution Control Board has given environmental clearance to 25 mines,spreading over 5 hectares but less than 50 hectares. Also,it is expected that another committee under the Central Pollution Control Board will give the environment clearance to the rest 95 mines (more than 50 hectares) by September paving way for their auction.
As of now,241 mines (less than five hectares),where the operations were banned by the Punjab and Harayna High Court,will remain closed till further orders, an officer said.