Gujarat high court order plugs Rs2,000 crore mining scam in Gujarat

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Gujarat high court order plugs Rs2,000 crore mining scam in Gujarat


Gujarat’s deep-rooted mining scam that runs into an estimated Rs2,000 crore got a jolt on Thursday when the division bench of Gujarat high court sealed the top with its order directing the state government to halt mining activities completely in the state. HC has directed the state to ask all lease holders of minor mineral mines to stop excavation work with immediate effect as they do not have environment clearance mandated by the February 27, 2012 order of the Supreme Court.

Incidentally, industry sources claimed that out of estimated 8,000 mines in the state, only one has the mandatory EC clearance.

With the order, mining of minor minerals like ordinary sand, red sand, black trap, marble, gabbro, slate, black stone, bentonite, limestone, brick clay, murrum and others (total 21) will come to a grinding halt.

According to a socio economic Review of Gujarat state, total minor mineral production in the state was estimated at Rs1,792 crore.

In an affidavit filed by advocate general of the state before the division bench, there are 7,990 mines in the state, of which, 2,887 are located in the vicinity of 5 km from protected areas like forest or declared forest and sanctuary or reserved forest areas. The court has directed that activity at these mines should be stopped immediately.

Further, the court has also directed that from now on, all mining permissions in the state should be through auctions. The state should ensure wider publicity to encourage more bidders’ participation in the bidding. The move, if implemented, is expected to increase state revenue manifold.

The judgment, dictated in the open court by justices Ravi R Tripathi and Mohinder Pal, brings to focus the menace of mining scam in the state. Citing the affidavit that included 1,000 plus pages of lease holders’ details, the court observed that there are hundreds of mines in the state that are unidentifiable. It means that exact location or place or survey number of mine is not available. The court further observed that renewal of mines, too, is not uniform. Taking a serious note of this, the court highlighted that some mines have been renewed after 20 years for yet another 10 years.

The HC order will have far-reaching impact on the construction sector as limestone, ordinary sand, black trap, black stone, chalk powder are some of the materials widely used in roads and building construction.

Its full impact will, however, be felt only when the state government seriously implements the order. advocate general has, meanwhile, assured the court that for environment protection, the state is anxious to implement whatever direction the court issues.

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