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Illegal stone crushers line Mewat road
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
A large number of stone crushers have come up along a public road in the Aravali range of Mewat district in the past few months in violation of anti-pollution laws.

According to information received here, the stone crushers, which have shown a mushroom growth near villages like Uttarwar, Gudawali and Bajida Pahri, have not obtained necessary permission from the Haryana Pollution Control Board and have been set up in gross violation of the minimum distance allowed from a public road and inhabited areas.

Mr Ramesh Arya, national organising secretary of the Bandhua Mukti Morcha, which is headed by Swami Agnivesh, alleges that these crushers enjoy the patronage of certain influential political leaders of the area. Since, he says, these leaders belong to the ruling party in Haryana, the authorities have turned a blind eye to their illegal activities.

Mr Arya, who has been actively engaged in the welfare activities of the workers of the stone and sand quarries in the Aravali range since long, says no licences have been obtained by the owners of these crushers. “What to talk of obtaining the licences, many owners are not even aware that they are required to obtain the licences and from whom,” he adds.

The crushers have come up in such a large number, he says, only after the state government auctioned the lease rights for stone quarries of Uttawar, Bajida Pahari, Gudawali, Bighawali and Ransika. It is a legal stipulation that the crushers must be at least 500 metres away from any public road. But many of the new crushers are hardly 50 metres from the road.

Mr Arya says that the lease holders of stone quarries have been using explosives to blast the stones, though they have no permission to use the explosives from the Department of Explosives. The use of explosives near inhabited areas is also a gross violation of law.

The labour leader says no steps have been taken for the safety of workers, who are not made to wear helmets or any other safety equipment. He warns, that a major accident involving the loss of life can take place any day.

During the process is any state revenue also being siphoned off? “Yes”, Mr Arya alleges.

When the quarries were auctioned, the government had allowed the successful bidders to take out as much stone and sand as they wanted without paying any royalty. All that was to be paid was the auction money. In its wisdom the government had perhaps thought that this concession would push up the auction amount and there would not be the need to put in place a system to monitor whether the royalty was being paid or not in the state exchequer.

However, another policy of the government is helping the unscrupulous persons in miltching the state exchequer. The government has allowed the trucks to carry load in excess of their sanctioned capacity after paying a nominal fee.

Mr Arya says the trucks normally carry load three times their sanctioned capacity. However, the lease holders were giving them bills equal to their sanctioned capacity, evading sales tax on the excess material sold to the truck operators.

Over the years, the mining lobby in the state has become so powerful that no small fry in the administration dares to check its activities. Of course, some observers feel that even the political leadership, at times, finds itself helpless in controlling the lobby. Recently, the government cancelled the lease rights of certain quarries in Yamunanagar district, but its decision was stayed by a local court.

The best course to check the leakage of revenue, experts in the trade say, is to enforce the restrictions on over-loading of trucks strictly. Since the Supreme Court has now struck down the “golden card” scheme of a number of states, which allowed the overloading of trucks on payment of nominal fee, the Haryana Government may also have to move firmly in this direction.

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