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Leases on hold,mining rampant in UP

An officer said that not a single legal mine existed in Pratapgarh,Jaunpur,Varanasi

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
August 6, 2013 2:04:54 am

Not just in Gautam Budh Nagar,where former SDM Durga Shakti Nagpal is believed to have been suspended for taking on the sand mafia,illegal mining activities have shot up across UP with no fresh leases being given over the past year in the absence of environment clearances.

“With no new leases and expiry of old leases,illegal mining activities are on the rise in the state,” said a field officer of UP Geology and Mining Department.

On an average,2,800-3,000 mining leases were allotted every year in the state for mining of ordinary white sand,boulder and gravel. In the past year,however,the existing leases stood at 1,900.

An officer said that not a single legal mine existed in Pratapgarh,Jaunpur,Varanasi and Bijnore with the term of all existing leases having expired and the government yet to decide on fresh tenders.

Moreover,the state is also short of mining inspectors. Against 45 sanctioned posts of mining inspectors,only 31 are filled. From among them,the government has formed one task force each for western UP and eastern UP. The task forces have started conducting raids. Officers,however,accept that until tenders for mining leases are given again,illegal mining activities will persist.

Fresh mining leases were on hold since May,2012,when the state government issued an order that they would be given through e-tender. The order also stated that a lease required environment clearances within six months under rules laid down by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests,failing which the tender would be cancelled.

Following the direction of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court to remove six-month clause on environment clearance,fresh e-tenders were issued in March 2013. The state government received around 400 e-tenders. Later,in April 2013,the court directed the government to include an “environment clause” in the UP Minor Minerals (Concession) Rules,1963.

The government again decided to put the entire process on hold till a decision was taken on amending the mining rules.

A senior officer in the Geology and Mining Directorate said the approval of the Cabinet would be required before making changes in the existing rules and before the process of fresh lease allotment could start.

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