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After diverting forest land, Rajasthan clears mining of pink sandstone for Ram temple

The Centre had earlier granted in-principle approval for the diversion of 398 hectares of forest land in Bharatpur for mining.

Legal mining in the area had stopped from December 1996 after a Supreme Court order prohibiting non-forestry activities without diversion.

The Congress government in Rajasthan has issued environmental clearances to 37 Letter of Intent holders for restarting mining in Bharatpur district’s Bansi Paharpur region, whose pink sandstone will be used to construct the Ayodhya Ram Temple, a state official said Friday.

The Centre had earlier granted in-principle approval for the diversion of 398 hectares of forest land in Bharatpur for mining.

Additional Chief Secretary (Mines) Subodh Agarwal said in a statement Friday that the legal mining of pink and red stone has already begun this month in three mines in the region.

Agarwal said the state’s Environment Impact Assessment Committee had issued clearance to 37 Letter of Intent holders, paving for legal mining of sandstone in Banshi Paharpur after nearly 26 years.

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The official said Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was serious about the “sensitive” issue of supplying stones for the Ram Temple, and added that he had made “tireless efforts” to take Banshi Paharpur, Sukhasila and Kot areas out of the region under Bandh Baretha Wildlife Sanctuary.

Legal mining in the area had stopped from December 1996 after a Supreme Court order prohibiting non-forestry activities without diversion.

Last year, a standing committee of the Rajasthan Wildlife Board, headed by the Chief Minister, cleared a proposal to shift the sanctuary “southwestward” to exclude three forest blocks damaged “irreparably” by mining.

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At the time, the government made no mention of the need for supply of construction material for the Ram temple.

The Indian Express had reported that the Rajasthan Mining Department had decided to apply for denotifying 5.56-sq km in Bansi Paharpur on the Parivesh portal of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as a matter of
“highest priority” in October 2020.

Earlier, functionaries of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Ayodhya had warned against blocking the supply of pink sandstone.

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ACS Agrawal said the state has prepared 41 plots in Bansi Paharpur and obtained the first cluster clearance after auction through the Centre’s e-portal.

The state had earlier issued environmental clearance to 12 Letter of Intent holders out of 41, said officials.
Agarwal Friday said environment clearance has been issued to all the stakeholders except four, who have not applied for it yet. He said climate consent has been received by five mining lease holders and mining has started in three of these mines.

Mining will also start in the remaining mines by the second week of July, said officials.

First published on: 24-06-2022 at 10:48:32 pm
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