Out of the top 12 mineral-rich states in the country, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have witnessed a significant increase in the number of illegal mining cases for major minerals between 2013-14 and 2016-17.
According to the data released by the Ministry of Mines on Tuesday, the number of illegal mining cases increased in the three states by 33.6 per cent, 52.8 per cent and 106.4 per cent, respectively. In India, the classifications of ‘minor minerals’ and ‘major minerals’ have been done according to Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Minerals such as coal, lignite and iron ore are considered as ‘major minerals’.
The number of illegal mining cases for major minerals in Madhya Pradesh was 6,725 in 2013-14, which more than doubled to 13,880 in 2016-17. Gujarat’s illegal mining cases increased from 5,447 in 2013-14 to 8,325 in 2016-17, while Rajasthan witnessed 2,953 cases in 2013-14, which increased to 3,945 in 2016-17.
On the other hand, a couple of states showed improvement too. Jharkhand’s illegal mining cases decreased by 23 per cent in between 2013-14 and 2016-17. In case of Tamil Nadu, numbers decreased from 1,078 in 2013-14 to just 56 in 2016-17. The other seven mineral-rich states that were included in the Mines Ministry analysis were Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha and Telangana.
According to the data, Tamil Nadu lodged total 10,734 FIRs against alleged illegal miners in between April 2013 and September 2017, the most among the 12 mineral-rich states. The state also realised illegal mining fine of Rs 122.85 crore in between April 2013 and September 2017. During the same time period, Madhya Pradesh realised fine of Rs 1,132.06 crore, making it the top state in terms of fine collection.
In between April 2013 and September 2017, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra realised fines of Rs 143.23 crore, Rs 33.38 crore, Rs 156.67 crore, Rs 111.63 crore and 281.78 crore, respectively.
The Ministry of Mines said that it has formed a three pronged strategy for prevention of illegal mining. The first is the constitution of a task force by state governments at the state or district level, which also includes a representative of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM). The second step is about requesting states to frame rules under Section 23C of the MMDRA Act, 1957. And third is about asking states to furnish quarterly returns on illegal mining for review by the Central government.
As per Section 23C of the MMDRA Act, 1957, matters relating to regulation and control of illegal mining, etc, comes under the domain of state governments. According to the Mines Ministry, till now 20 states have formed the rules.
Illegal mining means any reconnaissance or prospecting or mining operation undertaken by any person or a company in any area without holding a requisite license for that particular activity. The Ministry advised the states to set up State Coordination-cum-Empowered Committee (SCEC) to coordinate efforts to control illegal mining by including representatives of Railways, Customs and Port authorities. According to ministry’s annual report, 13 state governments have set up the committees.
The amended Rule 45 of Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988, has made it mandatory for all miners, traders, stockists, exporters and end-users of minerals to register and report production, trade and utilisation of minerals to the state governments and the IBM.
According to the Ministry’s report: “3,555 mining leases excluding 31 minor minerals have been registered online with IBM as on September, 2017. The IBM has suspended 145 mines for non-compliance and recommended 251 cases to state governments for termination.”
It added: “Similarly, as regards to the status of registration of end users, traders, stockists and exporters, a total of 3,345 units of end-users, 5,162 number of traders, 1,683 number of stockists and 898 number of exporters have been registered as on September, 2017. The IBM has also requested the state governments not to issue transit passes for movement of minerals to unregistered operators.”