Hindustan Salt delaying solution mining project

SHIMLA: Hindustan Salt Ltd (HSL), which had been issued a letter of intent for setting up a Rs 250-crore solution mining project at Darang in Mandi almost a year ago, is yet to clear its pending dues or obtain the clearances for the project.

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 12

Hindustan Salt Ltd (HSL), which had been issued a letter of intent for setting up a Rs 250-crore solution mining project at Darang in Mandi almost a year ago, is yet to clear its pending dues or obtain the clearances for the project.

Though the Industry Department has asked the HSL to submit its proposal before the Single Window Committee for clearance, the project report is still awaited. Neither has the HSL cleared the pending dues of over Rs 30 lakh to the mining wing of the Industry Department, nor has it moved its case for seeking environmental clearances.

A dispute over rock salt mining spread over 123 acres in Darang was resolved between the state government and the HCL in 2011 after several years. The HCL had agreed to clear all pending dues, so far it has only paid Rs 10 lakh out of Rs 40 lakh, said a mining official.

Sources said the HCL had also not obtained the clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest for diversion of the forest land for mining purpose. The environmental clearance from the state government had also not been obtained.

Though the HSL was yet to submit its project, the fact that it wanted to set it up as a joint venture with a partner could be one of the reasons for the delay, said officials.

The state government had issued notices to the HSL for illegally continuing mining in Darang after the expiry of its lease. It was after the dispute was resolved in 2011 that the HSL decided to set up a Rs 250 crore soluble mining project at Darang which would provide employment to 400 persons. The salt extracted from Darang was being used for consumption of cattle but now it would be extracted by pumping water into the mines and then taken out through the vacuum process.

The people of Darang and nearby areas have been hopeful that once the project comes up, they will get direct employment and indirect employment will also be generated which will help strengthen the economy of the rural area.

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