Other States

Rajasthan considering policy on M-sand as substitute for ‘bajri’

The Congress government in Rajasthan is considering formulating a policy on manufactured sand (M-sand) as a substitute of ‘bajri’ (riverbed sand) used for construction of buildings, in view of the Supreme Court’s ban on mining of the latter in the State. The State government has issued a limited number of mining leases for ‘bajri’ at private land.

The riverbed sand, which is mixed with cement for construction, has not been legally available in the State since November 2017, when the Supreme Court imposed a ban on its mining. The non-availability of sand has had an adverse impact on the construction of houses and stalled several government and private projects, besides leading to illegal mining.

Though the halt to construction activities rendered a large number of workers and labourers unemployed, the Supreme Court later came down heavily on the State government for sanctioning leases for sand mining without environmental clearances, while staying as many as 82 such licences.

The complete ban on riverbed sand mining came following the failure of the previous BJP regime and miners to get environmental clearances on time. The apex court had in May this year also stayed the auction of sand mining blocks for which Letters of Intent (LoIs) were issued without getting clearance from the Environment Ministry.

Mines Minister Pramod Bhaya said in the State Assembly on Tuesday that 97 mining leases for ‘bajri’ were at present operative in the State, while 216 LoIs had been issued since January 8 this year. “We will appoint a senior lawyer for representing the State government in the cases pending in the apex court and try for their early disposal,” he said.

Mr. Bhaya said the State government was issuing mining leases to the owners of private land measuring between 1 hectare and 4 hectares, while short-term licence could be issued to the contractors of government projects for land measuring up to 1 hectare. After a Supreme Court judgment of 2012, such a lease could be sanctioned only after obtaining environmental clearance, he added.

Congress charge

The Congress had earlier accused the previous BJP government of being “hand in glove with the sand mafia”, which was even taken note of by the Supreme Court. The ruling party said the BJP regime’s negligence had resulted in unemployment of 25 lakh people, including construction labourers, ‘bajri’ truck drivers, truck owners, contractors and skilled workers trained in the construction sector.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 11:16:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-considering-policy-on-m-sand-as-substitute-for-bajri/article28526610.ece

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