August 25, 2013 5:06:47 am
The mineral-rich new district of Chhota Udepur,which has the capacity of contributing Rs 20 crore to the state treasury through mining,has become a big challenge for the authorities due to illegal mining. The pressure exerted on the government by lobbyists,say sources,is hindering the implementation of auction of sand mine blocks in the area.
The proposal for introducing sand mine block auctions in Chhota Udepur and Vadodara districts formulated by Vadodara district Collector Vinod Rao before the division of the district has been pending an approval from the government for a year now. As per the proposal,sand mines in the two districts are to be divided into uniform blocks of two hectares each and auctioned to bidders,beginning with the royalty as base price of the block. The district Mining department has evaluated the actual value of each block of two hectares to be auctioned for sand mining in order to decide its bid amount,when the system is formally introduced by the Gujarat government.
Pravin Bhavsar,district geologist,Vadodara,says,The state government earns a royalty of Rs 12 per tonne of sand,which is a pittance. Under the new system,the state government will earn the royalty and the price for actual value of the mineral or sand after the official evaluation. This system will increase the revenue from each block by at least 20 times. The lessee will pay the royalty as the base price. The amount will be paid in four instalments.
Sources say that sand mining lobbyists do not want the new system to be in place,as they believe that their profit will be reduced to a great extent. For instance,the six leases,under the old system,that span over 56 hectares in Pavi Jetpur taluka have earned the state a revenue of Rs 75.35 lakh last year. Under the new system,six hectares of sand mines in Pavi Jetpur would have recorded a revenue of Rs 3.01 crore in the first three instalments itself.
However,sources in the department say that lack of political will has pushed the present proposal into cold storage. An officer from the district administration says,Illegal mining is a challenge as there are private lands where sand extraction happens without official permit. Currently,the mines are leased randomly,without actually evaluating the value of the minerals or sand in the mines. The auction system will make the process more uniform and restrain the hold of certain powers on the most prosperous mines.
Chhota Udepur district is the most sought after by miners,as it has mines that contain about 90.77 lakh tonnes of sand,5.39 lakh tonnes of dolomite,52,000 tonnes of fluorite,and 4,000 tonnes of granite.
Congress leader Narayan Rathwa feels that the division of the district will be effective only when the administration is actually vested with powers to curb the sand mafia. Rathwa says,There are several illegal miners in Sankheda and Jetpurpavi,who operate on licenses of Madhya Pradesh and siphon off truckloads of sand across the state borders.
Newly appointed Collector of Chhota Udepur,Jenu Devan,says he will push for a district officer for mining in order to ensure vigilance.
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