With the Gujarat Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2017 coming into force, paving the way for public auction, the Rajkot District Collector has declared 185 applications seeking lease concessions for mining sand, black trap and building limestone in the district ineligible. The collector has also cancelled seven lease concessions for lack of development.
“These applications were received over the last two years, but were pending for various reasons, including opinion of revenue authorities. In the meantime, the state government notified the Gujarat Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2017 in May last year. These new rules provide for allocation of blocks of minor minerals also through public auction and thus conform to Supreme Court directions. Therefore, the applications which sought allocation of lease concessions on first-come-first-serve basis but were pending have been declared ineligible,” Avinash Akolkar, in-charge geologist of Rajkot, told The Indian Express.
The government gives away rights to mine sand from bed of rivers like Bhadar in Gondal, Jetpur, Upleta, Dhoraji and Jamkandorana talukas.
Black trap reserves are in talukas like Gondal, Kotda Sangani, Rajkot and Dhoraji, while building limestone reserves are in Jasdan and Vinchhiya talukas, among others.
“In the existing system of first-cum-first-serve, the government used to get royalty on the amount of mineral mined by a concessionaire. But in allocating blocks through open public auction, the government stands to get more revenue as there will be information available on estimated amount of mineable mineral in a block and parties interested in seeking mining leases will be able to make informed decisions,” Akolkar said.
The geologist said that they had surveyed 15 blocks of sand mining in Dhoraji and Gondal talukas and sent a proposal to the office of Commissioner of Geology and Mining in Gandhinagar for notifying them. An additional 20 blocks were surveyed in Upleta taluka, and the opinion of revenue authorities was awaited, he said, adding that there was a proposal to identify a cluster of 20 blocks for mining black traps.
“Once our head office notifies these blocks, we shall advertise and invite parties to take part in public auction. We expect to notify first set of blocks within a month,” added Akolkar.
The officer further added that seven lease concessions for mining of sand were also cancelled. “These concessionaires failed to develop their lease areas and start mining mineral. Therefore, these lease areas were classified as inoperative or idle and, therefore, concession agreement was terminated,” said Akolkar.
The geologist further added that there were around 275 active lease areas in Rajkot district.