Illegal Mining Current Affairs
The Union Ministry of Mines has launched Sand Mining Framework to help states deal with the sand mining issues, including demand supply deficit and illegal extraction. It was launched at the third National Conclave on Mines & Minerals held in New Delhi.
The main objective of framework is to assist states in arriving at best possible options before them. It also seeks to addresses issues of state objectives, demand-supply assessment and measures to sand availability, allocation model, transportation and monitoring mechanism. Besides, it also includes suggestions for faster clearances and approvals and using its interventions in complete process chain of sand mining. It also lays emphasis on alternatives of sand i.e. manufactured sand, import of sand etc.
Need for framework
Sand is an important component for housing, infrastructure projects and construction activities. There have been various issues across the country in mining activities related to sand like non availability of sand, environmental degradation, high sand prices, illegalities in sand mining etc. The natural endowment of sand across many states is unable to meet the demand and is coupled with unease of extraction issues, pricing and illegalities in mining. So there was need of uniform framework to help states to frame their policies, taking into consideration their objectives, endowments and state deployment of resources.
The Uttarakhand High Court has ordered a complete ban on all mining activities in the state for four months.
The court gave this order while hearing on Public Interest Litigation (PIL). It comes after a forest guard was allegedly killed by illegal miners near Corbett National Park when he had tried to stop them.
- The HC bench ordered the state government to constitute a high-powered committee to look into various aspects of mining activities and find out whether mining activity should be permitted in the state at all.
- The committee will also prepare a 50-year blueprint taking into consideration environment limits vis-a-vis mining operations and submit an interim report within four month.
- It will also assess the damage caused to the rivers, springs, rivulets and environment and ecology of Uttrakahnd by mining and determine compensation payable to the persons affected by mining activities.
- It will identify places to be earmarked for safe mining so that there would be no loss of revenue to the government and requirements of people can also meet at the same time.
- Till the committee submits its report, there shall be a complete ban on mining activities, including in forest areas, rivers, rivulets and streams.
- The HC held that Shivalik region of the Himalayas is further getting fragile by mining activities. Mining activities needs to be regulated by the state to ensure that no illegal mining is carried out.
- It directed state government not to grant any fresh licence/mining lease/prospecting licence, in any form till the final report is furnished by the high powered committee to this court.
The HC order will stop mining in interstate rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna and also nearly 100 seasonal rivers and rivulets on foothills of the state, apart from forest areas.