The Manipur Government has taken up steps to issue legal mining permits for sand and stone mining in the wake of a series of protests launched by quarry workers and transporters.
An emergency meeting chaired by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh was held on Wednesday to discuss issues prevailing in the state following a total ban imposed by the High Court of Manipur on unauthorized mining of sand and stone in all the rivers.
Left with no alternative, quarry workers and transporters banned the supplies of sand and stones for all government and private construction, besides the import of sand from outside the state.
The quarry workers and transporters have also imposed a 14-hour statewide bandh on Thursday from 4 am to 6pm. The aggrieved workers and transporters have been demanding alternative sites to continue with their mining activities.
Subsequently, in today’s meeting, the Chief Minister reportedly instructed deputy commissioners to immediately inform the district Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) authority to take assistance from the Water Resources Department.
Dr. K. Suhel Akhtar, additional chief secretary, Forest and Environment, said applicants shall submit their application for mining plan (prepared by qualified or registered mine planner) for private patta lands for an area less than 5 hectares to the directorate of trade, commerce and industries. The proposals will be forwarded to the district authority of environment clearance, he said adding that proposals which are found feasible shall be forwarded to Directorate of Environment for environmental clearance by the state-level expert committee. Based on the clearance, the directorate of trade and commerce will issue the permits.
As far as waterways are concerned, he said, till the potential quarry sites are identified by the Water Resource Department and a tender is floated for the same, the Public Works Department will be provided temporary permits for 2 months for certain quarry sites in consultation with the Water Resources Department on submission of their mining plans.
Further, machinery shall be prohibited in such quarries. Under no such circumstances, areas in the river channel which has been degraded will be permitted for quarrying, the additional chief secretary added.
The High Court had issued the ban in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Thoubal River Conservation Committee, a civil body seeking the court’s intervention to stop the exploitation of the Thoubal river and control pollution, which was increasing at an alarming rate.