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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Rajasthan govt plans e-auction to mine pink sandstone for Ram temple

Additional chief secretary, mines and petroleum, Subodh Agarwal said that with the Centre’s stage I clearance —granted on June 11 — the state will now develop mining blocks for the e-auction.

By: Express News Service | Jaipur |
Updated: June 15, 2021 4:00:32 am
Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Trust should give a full account of the money received through donations by people,” AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member said at a press conference in New Delhi. (File)

The Rajasthan government is all set to develop around 70 mining blocks of pink sandstone — presently in high demand as it is slated to be used for construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya — after the Centre granted in-prinicple approval for diversion of 398 hectares of forest land in Bharatpur district for mining, officials said.

The mining blocks will be developed in Bharatpur district’s Bansi Paharpur.

Additional chief secretary, mines and petroleum, Subodh Agarwal said that with the Centre’s stage I clearance —granted on June 11 — the state will now develop mining blocks for the e-auction.

“We have received the first stage approval and after compliance of the other conditions part of the approval, we can start the process of delineation, developing of the mining blocks and their auction. This will end illegal mining in the area and promote legal mining,” Agarwal told The Indian Express on Monday.

He added that earlier, the 398-hectare area was denotified by the government to exclude it from the area of the Bandh Baretha wildlife sanctuary. He said that the land which was excluded from the wildlife sanctuary was largely degraded and had been previously used for mining.

“Now, since the mining area has been separated, the sanctuary will consist of the actual portions pertaining to wildlife,” said Agarwal.

According to a government release on Sunday, there is a possibility of developing around 70 mining blocks which could result in revenue of Rs 500 crore for the state government after the e-auction.

In February, a standing committee of the Rajasthan wildlife board, headed by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, had cleared a proposal to shift the Bandh Baretha wildlife sanctuary “southwestward” to exclude three forest blocks that were damaged “irreparably” by mining.

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

But Agarwal said in Sunday’s release that it was after the ‘extensive efforts’ of Chief Minister Gehlot that the Banshi Paharpur mining area could be excluded from the wildlife sanctuary. He added that the state government was sensitive towards the issue after seeing the demand for the stone for the construction of the Ram temple.

The Indian Express had earlier 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 (VHP) in Ayodhya had warned against blocking the supply of pink sandstone.

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