Centre for sand mining regulation

Taking note of the adverse impact on environment due to the rampant mining of these minor minerals, a high-level committee appointed by the ministry has recommended framing model mineral concession rules to ensure scientific and sustainable mining. 

In March 2009, the Centre constituted a committee headed by Vijay Sharma, Environment and Forests Secretary, to evolve model guidelines regarding the environmental aspects of quarrying minor minerals.

In its report, the committee said for sand mining on river beds, specified river stretches should be identified and permits should be granted stretch-wise to ensure that lease holders follow safeguard measures and authorities concerned are monitoring it. The depth of mining should be restricted to three metres or at the water level, whichever is less.

For carrying out mining near any bridge or embankment, the required safety zone should be worked out on a case to case basis, taking into account the structural parameters, location aspects and flow rate. However, no mining should be allowed in the safety zone, the committee said.

Re-examining the classification of minor and major minerals, uniformity in size of mines across the country, a minimum five-year period for mining leases, cluster approach for mines, plan for reclamation and rehabilitation of mining areas are among the other steps suggested by the committee.

In India, the classification of minerals into minor and major is done on the basis of end-use. While the Centre gives no objection certificate for mining major minerals like iron ore and coal, the state governments are authorised to take a decision on minor minerals.

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