Amid reports of illegal mining at the Aravalli hills, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday directed officials to take stern action against mining mafia in the state to curb the practice.

Chairing a high-level review meeting, Mr. Gehlot asked officials to make amendments in the rules, if necessary, for the purpose, according to an official release.

Special Operations Group (SOG) and police force should be made responsible for prevention of illegal mining, he told the officials while asking them to prepare a strategic plan to stop illegal mining in the Aravalli area.

The Chief Minister also ordered to constitute a task force headed by Chief Secretary T. Srinivasan to control the menace. Principal Secretaries - Home, Mines, Environment, Forest, and Law, and DG-Rajasthan Police will be its members.

Noting that mining was one of the main sources of revenue for the State, Mr. Gehlot said the government would not tolerate its exploitation anymore.

“Out of total revenue of Rs. 1500 crore from mining, Rs. 700 crore comes from 15 districts under Aravalli hills area, and almost half the manpower is employed in the same area.

“Mining must be carried out only legally and checking for illegal mining must be strengthened by concerned officials,” he said in the meet.

Principal Secretary (Mines) Govind Sharma said a high quality survey with an estimated cost of Rs. 7 crore would be conducted in 15 districts under Aravalli hill range to identify illegal mining.

“Rajasthan State Remote Sensing Centre, Jodhpur will conduct the survey and it will first of its kind in the state,” Mr. Sharma said.

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