Chandigarh, June 18: To further curb illegal mining in the state, and to check degradation of environment, the Punjab Cabinet on Friday gave the nod to more stringent guidelines and rules through various amendments.
The Punjab Minor Mineral Rules, 2013 and Policy Guidelines for Registration and Working of Stone Crushers in the State of Punjab, 2015, will be amended to ensure that any kind of minor mineral extracted from the State is properly accounted for, it was decided by the Cabinet a virtual meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. Four key amendments to these rules/guidelines will pave the way for stricter curbs on illegal stone crushing.
The amendments make it mandatory for the registration of a carrier used for transportation of minerals in any form, and the requirement of a mineral transport permit, with carrier to be fitted with GPS for real time tracking. Also, registration of wheel mounted/chain mounted excavators/poclains involved in excavation of minerals in the state, and all such machinery, shall be fitted with GPS to monitor their movement in real time.
The amendments will also empower the Government to levy strict penalty under MMDR Act, 1957 and IPC, in case anyone tries to establish Check-post/Naka for checking of slips or collection of illegal royalty. It will also enable the Water Resources Department to keep a check on the stone-crushers, as their registration has been made mandatory on the online portal developed by the department. Also, the material processed by them will be duly accounted for. Similarly, the rules for issuing transport permits to the vehicles transporting the minerals are also being suitably amended to check illegal transportation.
It may be recalled that the contract of mineral concessions of sand and gravel mines in the Punjab have been awarded through e-auction, to various contractors, under Punjab Sand and Gravel Mining Policy, 2018. As per the orders of the National Green Tribunal in various cases, there is huge gap in the raw material used and the raw material accounted for by the Stone Crushers, from which it could be inferred that the unaccounted raw material was sourced from illegal mining. Therefore, the NGT had issued the directions to adopt a suitable mechanism regarding Stone Crushers within three months, so that illegal raw material can no longer be sourced by the Stone Crushers.
Subsequently, directions were also issued to the Punjab Pollution Control Board to amend the Stone Crusher Policy, so that fresh applications for establishment of Stone Crushers can be entertained after obtaining prior NOC from the Mining Division of Water Resources Department.