Permits would continute to be be given for quarrying, excavation of earth, and sand mining subject to court directives and stipulations of State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday that permits would continue to be given for quarrying, excavation of earth, and sand mining subject to court directives and stipulations of State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority chaired by A. E. Muthunayagam.

Briefing the media on the deliberations of the Cabinet during the past three days on issues connecting to excavation, quarrying and mining, the Chief Minister said that there would be no total ban on quarrying or excavation. However, permits would be subject to court directives and stipulations made by State Authority. (The Authority has K. P. Joy and Additional Chief Secretary P. K. Mohanty as members).

The Chief Minster said that the procedure adopted in Kannur district for sand mining from rivers and ‘kadavus’ with approval of the Authority would be extended to other districts. The Chief Secretary would communicate the decisions to the Collectors through a video conference to be held on Thursday.

Mr. Chandy said that the construction sector had been hit as sand mining and quarrying had come to a stand still. The workers were on an agitation and even works of Railways had been affected. “We cannot go on with a total ban on collection of sand and quarrying operations. Those activities are to be allowed subject court directives and stipulations of the Authority.”

As legal hurdles in sand mining from shipping channels had been removed, the scope for dredging channels and separating the sand would be examined by the Ports Department subject to clearance of the Authority. There were also plans for mining sand from the reservoirs. As several of the reservoirs are in forest areas, the clearance of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests would be sought.

He said that the Revenue and Water Resources departments had been asked to make recommendations for facing the impending drought. Their proposals would come before the Cabinet at its next meeting. Meeting of people’s representatives and officials to prevent spread of contagious diseases during the next monsoon had been held. District level meetings would be chaired by Ministers in charge of each district.

The Chief Minister said that the financial difficulties of the government were the result of fall in tax revenues at the national and State levels. While plan and expenditure could not be cut, measures would be taken to see that revenue expenditure did not exceed budgeted sums.

Denying that there was any recruitment ban to government service, Mr. Chandy said that if the government planned any ban, it would not have recommended extension of PSC lists. Lapsing of PSC lists would have the effect of indirect ban.

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