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Govt notifies new mining rules for minor minerals

The power of granting environmental clearances for leases up to five hectares have been delegated to district committees for the first time

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Govt notifies new mining rules for minor minerals

The government has notified a new policy of granting environmental clearance (EC) for minor minerals to combat illegal sand mining.

(Major minerals are those specified in the Schedule appended in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and the common major minerals are calcite, clay, coal, quartz, etc. Minor minerals are those specified in the Schedule appended in minor mineral concession rules and the common minor minerals are limestone, decorative stones, etc.)

The power of granting environmental clearances for leases up to five hectares have been delegated to district committees for the first time, among other steps, including the monitoring of mined-out material through information-technology-enabled services.

Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar termed it a major reform, saying it will bring transparency and sustainable mining, especially in the mafia-infested sand-mining sector.

While the draft notification had been published by the ministry to this effect in September last year, the changes in the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, were notified in the Gazette of India on January 15, 2016.

Earlier, no environmental clearance was required for leases up to five hectares. But in 2012, a Supreme Court judgment made environment clearance mandatory for mining leases even up to five hectares.

The minister said the EC for leases more than 5 hectares and up to 25 hectares, will be given by the state level Expert Appraisal Committee and State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEAC and SEIAA) which already exists.

For leases above 50 hectares, the EC will be given by the Centre.

Elaborating on the topic, Javadekar said that the movement of sand is controlled through transit permit and henceforth the security feature of this permit will be enhanced with unique barcode, unique QR code, fugitive ink background, invisible ink mark, void pantograph and watermark.

Javadekar, however accepted the absence of any authentic data on how much sand is being mined and said the new system will generate real time data on mined out sand.

The minister also informed that preparation of district survey report for sand and river bed mining and mining of other minor minerals will also be done in the future.

The new policy also has exempted certain categories from the requirement of an EC which includes extraction of ordinary clay or sand manually by the Kumhars (Potter), extraction of ordinary clay or sand manually by earthen tile makers and removal of sand deposits on agricultural field after flood by farmers.

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First Published: Fri, January 22 2016. 00:42 IST
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