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Centre plans to adopt new sand mining policy for forest areas

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar said on Sunday the Centre plans to adopt a new policy to allow sand mining in forest areas to stop flood waters from flowing into forests.

Javadekar made the announcement while referring to recent deaths of 10 Asiatic lions and other wild animals due to floods in Amreli district in June. He said sand mining in rivers passing through protected forest land has been banned by the Supreme Court.

“Due to floods in Amreli recently, 10 lions and other wild animals died. According to the Supreme Court order, you cannot excavate silt gathered in rivers passing from the forest area. As a result, large amount of silt has gathered in such rivers across the country,” Javadekar said at a press conference.

“As a result, river beds have become shallow and flood waters eventually flow into nearby forests. If we don't remove this silt, forests will eventually vanish and flood will keep happening. Thus, there is a need to remove this silt. Therefore, we have prepared a ‘sustainable sand mining policy’ to allow sand mining in forest areas for this purpose. We will also inform the court about it to seek its permission.”

The minister also claimed that his ministry cleared at least 35 projects in Gujarat, which had not been given clearance.

“When the Congress was in power at the Centre, they stalled many projects in Gujarat. During the last 15 months, we cleared 35 such projects of the Gujarat government. Many of these projects were stuck in this ministry since 2007,” Javadekar said.

Some of these projects which received environmental clearances include the 800 MW extension at Vanakbori thermal power station, drilling of 103 wells in Vadodara by the ONGC, development of Dholera SIR and a limestone mining project in Rangpur village of Junagadh, Javadekar said.

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First Published: Mon, August 10 2015. 00:24 IST