New Delhi: Concerned over the environment impact of rampant mining of minor minerals such as sand and fuller earth, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has asked the states to amend rules for such activities in line with the guidelines framed by his ministry.
In letters written to all chief ministers, Ramesh said "as there is no uniform framework to regulate the mining of minor minerals, my ministry has evolved a set of guidelines
for their sustainable mining."
He said the guidelines were formulated on the basis of
recommendations of a group constituted under the environment
secretary last year as mining of minor minerals has been
increasing over the years and was starting to have a
significant adverse impact on our ecology.
A re-look on the classification of major and minor
minerals, fixing minimum size of mine and minimum period of
mine lease, a mandatory mine plan and rehabilitation of mined
out area are among the suggestions made by the taskforce.
The task force suggested that the Mining Ministry
along with the Bureau of Mines in consultation with
the state governments re-examine the classification of
"The minerals should be classified into major and
minor categories on the basis of their economic value instead
of end-usage," says the report, according to a senior
It substantiated its view by pointing out that in
cases of minor minerals like silica sand and limestone, the
scale of mechanisation and production level was much higher
than those of industrial mineral mines.
Boulder, shingle, brick-earth, fuller``s earth,
marble, stone used for making utensils, ordinary earth, road
metal, line shell, kankar and limestone used in kilns for
manufacture of lime used as building material are some of the
minor minerals presently identified by the government.
The 16-member group has suggested that minimum size of
mine lease should be five hectares and minimum period of mine
lease should be five years, the official said.
"It is also recommended that mine plan, as in the case
of major minerals, should be made mandatory for minor minerals
"These should specifically include the provision for
reclamation and rehabilitation of mined out area, progressive
mine closure plan and post mine land use," the task force has
said suggesting setting up of a separate corpus for the
In view of the environmental damage being caused by
unregulated river bed mining of sand, buzari and boulders, it
has advocated the need for identifying specific river
stretches so as to ensure requisite safeguard measures.
The panel, while favouring restricting of the mining
depth to three metres, has said, "for carrying out mining in
proximity to any bridge or embankment, appropriate safety zone
should be worked out on case to case basis, taking into
account the structural parameters, locational aspects."
Stressing that the recommendations would preserve
ecology in a long-run, the Minister has asked the states to
ensure that they are incorporated in the Mineral Concession
Rules for Mining of Minor Minerals under Section 15 of the
Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.