Grim Reality of Uttar Pradesh : Illegal Mining

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Uttar Pradesh is a fast growing state with various infrastructure projects coming up simultaneously, which has given rise to the problem of illegal mining in the state. High Court in the year 2012, imposed a ban on mining in Uttar Pradesh, but it proved to be a disastrous one. After the ban, cases of illegal mining in the state have increased five folds. In February 2017, Government suspended all mining licenses which lead to a steep increase in the prices of sand (Balu) and red sand (Morang). Earlier a trolley of 100 cubic feet of sand was priced at Rs. 1200, but currently it is available at Rs. 5,500. Same is the case with red sand where a trolley of 100 cubic feet was earlier available at Rs. 3,500 but now the prices have crossed Rs. 13,000. High prices of the construction materials have lead to stagnation of construction, developmental work in the State. More on the issue by Rajneesh Raj :

Low Supply leads to High Prices

High prices of red sand and sand have lead to suspension of various construction works in the state, and the graph of unemployment has peaked in the state. Builders in the state have a lot to say in their defense. Originally, in Lucknow 2 lakh cubic feet of red sand was imported per day but now it is just 20 to 25 thousand cubic feet. Same is the case with sand, where earlier around 2 lakh cubic feet of sand was imported, now only 20 thousand cubic feet is imported. Low supply has pushed the prices of these commodities to the peak and in turn the construction projects are suffering.

Cement prices have taken a hit, as the supply has dipped for there is no demand for it. Uttar Pradesh Cement Trade Committee’s Vice President Dilip Singhal paints a grim picture of construction projects in the state. Even after importing sand and red sand from Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the demand cannot be met. Various construction projects in the state have come to a halt. To combat the crisis situation Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court has asked the mining department to make sand and red sand available to the public.

Strict Action by NGT

A pollution clearance certificate from the NGT is required for mining, which has restricted illegal mining to some extent. National Green Tribunal came into existence on 2nd June, 2010 after United Nations Conference on Environmental and Development Meet in Rio. NGT is a constitutional body and implements rules related to environment, water, forest, wind and biodiversity.

Changing Times

Much publicized mining scam during SP government has put a black mark on the whole mining industry in the state, to save face BJP Government has come up with e-auction of mining licenses. All licenses will be auctioned online and it is believed the prices will be in control in the near future. Baring Saharanpur where NGT has imposed a ban on mining, all other 74 district’s licenses will be auctioned online. All the areas which have received NOC from the Forest Department will be auctioned online very soon.

1000 Sand and Red Sand Mining Licenses             

In the state around 1000 mining licenses will be e-auctioned. The interested party will have to register online and also send their bids online on a specified date and time. Highest bidder will be allocated the mining area for a period of five years.

Guidelines for Mining Sand and Red Sand

  • Mining area’s boundary are marked
  • Mining laborers should be from rural area, to increase employment among them
  • Flow of the river will not be touched/ manipulated
  • Mining work will not be carried out under the river bed
  • Mining work can be done only to a depth of 3 meters
  • The mining leaseholder is required to obtain a No Objection Certificate from Forest Department, Mineral Department, Pollution Control Board and Environment Department.

Illegal Mining is Dangerous

Illegal miners use machines like pokeland and lifter which causes 50 feet deep holes in the river bed which increases the incidences of drowning. Illegal miners dug up more than leased area and they build bridges on the river to set up these drilling machines. These drilling machines cause structural damages to the bridges which might lead to serious accidents.

Computerization of Mining

Share of mining in the revenue of the state has increased from 1.8% to 3%. The Government has also imposed a 1% cess on the income of the mine owners. Government will use techniques like GPRS, satellite mapping, and surveillance system to combat the problem of illegal mining. All the formalities of mining will be done online- e-trading, e-banking, e-auction and e-payment of royalty. Area of mining, mining licenses and transport vehicles will all be registered with the Government. Armed forces will be stationed to fight the battle against illegal mining. Proper action will be taken against the defaulters and special fast track courts have been set up to fight illegal mining.

Strict Punishment Against Illegal Miners

Strict regulations have been formulated to fight illegal mining and UP cabinet have issued a new Mining (42nd Amendment) Guidelines, 2017. According to the new guidelines fine on per hectare has increased from 25 thousand to 5 lakh and punishment duration has increased from 6 months to 5 years.

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