January 15, 2022 10:40:15 pm
The Commissioner of Geology and Mining reported a 144 percent increase in penalties recovered from those involved in illegal mining activities in Gujarat during the last five years.
The highest recoveries are from tribal districts of Chotta Udepur and Kutch, which are considered to be rich in major and minor minerals.
In 2021-22, the department has recovered almost Rs 105 crore, which is not only two percent more than Rs 103 crore last financial year, but is also 144 percent more than Rs 43 crore recovered in 2016-17, data from the Commissioner of Geology stated.
Between 2016-17 and 2021-22 (till December 2021), over Rs 691 crore was recovered in penalties.
While Chotta Udepur (famous for Flourspar and Dolomite) accounted for the maximum recoveries (Rs 41 crore), Kutch (Bauxite, Limestone, Lignite) and Surendranagar (Sub-Bituminous coal) too had high recoveries of Rs 38 crore and Rs 35 crore, respectively.
“The high recoveries indicate greater vigilance. We have effectively cracked down on illegal mining,” said Roopwant Singh, Commissioner of Geology and Mining.
Data tabled in Rajya Sabha during the winter session in December 2021 show that the number of illegal mining cases registered in Gujarat have reduced by 8.5 percent during a four year period between 2017-21.
While a total of over 30,146 illegal mining cases were registered across Gujarat during this four year period, the number of cases fell from 7,827 in 2017-18 to 7164 cases in 2020-21. Despite these cases being registered in the state, only 492 FIRs and 53 court cases were filed.
The Union Ministry of Mines, through the Indian Bureau of Mines have developed a Mining Surveillance System that uses space technology for curbing illegal mining activities in the country.
This system has been developed in coordination with Gandhinagar-based Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG) checks up to 500 meters around the existing mining lease boundary for any excavation activity which is likely to be an incident of illegal mining. Any abnormalities are flagged through a mobile application to the state government for a field-check.
The drone surveillance project that was initiated in 2018 by former Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani to keep a tab on illegal sand mining in rivers like Sabarmati has been discontinued. “I do not want to delve into why it was discontinued, but we plan to restart the project soon,” Singh said.
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