99,000 cases of illegal mining reported in 20 States in last fiscal

Concerned at the spurt in cases of illegal mining, the Union government has asked the mineral-rich States to immediately constitute empowered committees on the lines of an inter-ministerial committee at the Centre to check the menace. In a communication to these States, the Mines Ministry pointed out that barring Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu no State had formed State-level Empowered Committees (SLEC). “Constitute State-level committees on the pattern of the 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.

According to officials, about 99,000 cases of illegal mining were reported in 20 States in the last fiscal.

In 2011-12, the number was about 96,000, while the same was about 78,000 in 2010-11.

The States have been asked to ensure that SLECs meet regularly so that important issues such as prevention of illegal mining, pendency of concession cases etc were attended to on a regular basis. They were also asked to put the proceedings of such meetings on their websites to promote transparency.

Rajasthan model

The CEC has advised the States to emulate the Rajasthan model to curb illegal mining. The government there, 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 has also lauded the measures taken by the Maharashtra government in making use of satellite imagery to check illegal mining and steps by the Odisha government in setting up a special cell to monitor and regulate mining activities.

Referring to the current scenario in Goa where a ban has led to an adverse impact on the economy, it emphasised need for the States 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 said.