In the wake of the tragic explosion at a stone quarry in Shivamogga, the state government has decided to pin down those involved in illegal mining by levying five times the tax payable as penalty.
Mines & Geology minister Murugesh Nirani said the government would invoke existing provisions under the law to levy hefty penalty on illegal mining.
"When it comes to illegal mining, many companies would have mined more than what is permissible under their license. For instance, they would have taken permission for one lorry and would have transporting ten. This amounts to illegality. There is a provision to levy five times the tax for the illegal mining that is done. We will issue notices and collect the amount," Nirani explained.
The government is yet to assess the exact extent of illegal mining in the state. For this, a drone survey would be taken up, Nirani said, adding that a meeting of district-level officials has been scheduled on Thursday for a detailed discussion.
Through this, the government wants to ensure regularisation of mining wherever license provisions have been violated, while at the same time, generating revenue to the exchequer.
A task force led by tahsildars will also be constituted to inquire into the racket of illegal supply and manufacture of explosives, Nirani added.
At least six people died on January 21 when a truck full of gelatin sticks exploded at a stone crusher unit in the Hunasodu village in Shivamogga.
"Many people take licenses without complete knowledge of mining," Nirani said. To fill this gap, the government is considering setting up a mining training and research institute on the lines of the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research in Dhanbad, Jharkand. Going forward, training and certification will be a prerequisite for granting new licenses, he said.
Also, a 'Mining Adalat' is being planned. The adalat will be held in all the five divisions in the state every fortnight. This will be a platform to address all grievances related to mining activities in the respective regions, according to the minister.
Asked about the Congress' allegation that family members of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and Shivamogga district in-charge minister KS Eshwarappa were involved in illegal mining in the Malnad region, Nirani said investigation is underway into the Shivamogga explosion. "Action would be taken on all those involved. The Congress is jumping to conclusions," he said.