Unable to check illegal stone mining, the Rohtas administration has decided to blast approach roads to Kaimur hills in the district, admitting their decision could be called “a surrender”. The “extra-ordinary” decision comes four months after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s visit to Sasaram block, where he called for a crackdown on illegal mining.
After several high-level meetings, the district authorities have identified around 15 non-concrete routes in Karbandiya and Bansa villages in Sasaram, which are infamous for illegal mining, and have invited tenders for blasting them.
“The district administration after due consultation with the state chief secretary and the Mines and Minerals Department decided to sever all the routes to hills so that miners cannot carry the stones (from atop them),” Rohtas Assistant Director, Mines and Minerals, Gyanendra Kumar told The Indian Express. “Most of these routes were prepared by illegal stone miners to reach quarries spread over a 1,500-acre area.”
Tenders specify that the blast area should be 20 feet wide, 30 feet long and 20 to 40 feet deep. “This can be called a surrender before the miners, but we have identified a method that can be effective. Our idea is to cut off roads to atop hills for miners’ vehicles. We are planning to blast away the base of the hills and dig deep enough so that no vehicle can cross,” Kumar said. He added that the public would not be affected as there are few human settlements in the foothills.
There are other approach routes to illegal mining spots, Kumar admitted, but these fall under the Forest Department. “We have focused on non-forest areas of Karbandiya and Bansa. Any decision on cutting off forest routes can be taken by the Forest Department alone. But problem areas are the Karbandiya and Bansa routes,” said Kumar.
The Bihar government declared stone mining illegal in 2007. Police have lodged more than 300 cases over the past decade, but most arrests have been of labourers and stone-crusher operators. The miners are estimated to make around Rs 1,000 crore annually.