States asked set up empowered panels to check illegal mining
New Delhi: Mineral rich states have been asked to expedite formation of empowered panels on the pattern of an inter-ministerial committee at Centre to check the menace of illegal mining.
Barring Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu no other state has constituted such state-level empowered committee (SLEC), the Centre said in a communication to states.
Constitute state-level committees on the pattern of coordination-cum-empowered committee (CEC) on mineral development and regulation, it said. The CEC comprising representatives of various ministries is headed by Secretary, Mines, R H Khwaja.
The development comes in the wake of a spurt in illegal mining cases despite a slew of measures by the Centre and the states.
According to a Mines Ministry official, about 99,000 cases of illegal mining were reported in 20 states in the last fiscal. In 2011-12, the number of cases stood at about 96,000 while the same were recorded at about 78,000 in 2010-11.
The states have also asked to ensure that SLECs meet regularly so that all important state-level issues like prevention of illegal mining, pendency of concession cases etc are attended to on a regular basis.
Besides, the states were asked to put proceedings of meetings on their websites in a bid to promote transparency.
Earlier, the CEC in its meeting on September 10 also asked states to emulate the Rajasthan model to curbe illegal mining".
Rajasthan government besides providing for a 500-strong police force for the task has set up a special operations group and sanctioned 1,000 posts to deal with the problem.
The CEC also lauded the measures undertaken by the Maharashtra government in making use of satellite imagery to check illegal mining and steps by Odisha government in setting up a special cell to monitor and regulate mining activities.
It requested the states that a database giving details of the steps/measures undertaken by them be maintained.
Referring to the current mining scenario in Goa where the ban on mining has led to an adverse impact on the economy, it emphasised the need for the State Governments to overhaul and tighten their systems.
"All efforts in this direction should be made concurrently by all concerned i.E. The State Governments, the Ministry of Mines and the Central Departments/Ministries concerned, so that regular mining picks up in the interest of overall growth of the national economy," it added.
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