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Centre ignores state’s plea on restricting mining area

Shimla, The Centre has ignored the state’s plea for restricting the minimum mining area to contain the environmental fall out of mining activity in the state where land is extremely scarce.The state had suggested that the minimum area for mining projects should not exceed one hectare in view of the non-availability of land. Also, it should effectively address the environmental concerns but as per the Draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Bill, 2010, approved by the Group of Ministers, the minimum area has been kept 5 hectares.The main reason for the state government insisting on restricting the minimum area was that almost 38 per cent of the geographical area is classified as forest land and there is hardly any land available there. As a result, it was facing problems in providing suitable land even for institutions like Central University. However, Controller General of the Indian Bureau of Mines CS Gundewar, who was here to launch a fortnight-long campaign against illegal mining, said the main reason for having a large area was to ensure that enough area was available for scientific excavation, dumping of muck and afforestation.He said the state could allocate the 5-hectare site to about six parties who could use common dumping sites and take other measures to mitigate the environmental concerns. He said Himachal might have a valid point but no other state had objected to the provision of minimum land.The provision of making it mandatory for the developer of the mine to share 26 per cent profit with the local community whose land was acquired for the project would go a long way in ensuring adequate compensation for the affected people.With the new Act in place, it would be possible to effectively check illegal mining across the country.However, the Centre was confined to the role of regulating mining of major minerals while the states had the full authority to regulate the mining of minor minerals like sand, stone and grit, which were used directly without processing.The bureau had stepped up inspections to check violations of law and it had conducted task force for the purpose that was working with the help satellite imageries.Already 212 mines in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Gujarat had been inspected and mining activities had been suspended in 82 cases. Further, the bureau had recommended termination of mining leases in three cases and issued show-cause notices for minor violations in 64 cases.

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