Tribune News Service
The state government’s move to revamp the mining wing of the Industries Department by transferring nine mining officers (MOs) in one-go has left Solan district without any MO. The officer has been shifted to Shimla and the new one is yet to join.
The district administration had tightened its noose around officials from other departments to check illegal mining.
The absence of an MO will also create problems in clearing nine pending cases of mining lease as the MO was a crucial member of the district-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority. A meeting was slated to take place after September 15 but the MO was transferred in the first week of September.
With mining yielding revenue worth crores to the state exchequer, the absence of the officer led to loss of revenue. These nine cases had been referred to the district committee since June after the Ministry of Environment and Forests had notified that the district committees would deal with cases having area less than 5 hectares. This panel was notified on August 16.
While PWD officials were directed to ensure that their roads were not used for carrying illegal quarry material, the campaign has met with a limited success. The absence of the MO has further emboldened those indulging in this activity as the blocked pathways were again in use as per a field analysis of some of the sites. As many as 37 such sites had been identified by officials and there were strict directions by DC to check the activity.
The industrial belt of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh is prone to illegal mining and officials have been in controversies over illegal mining and the transportation of such material to the neighbouring states. With the secretary concerned being away on an official tour, all eyes are now set on his return which could help place an official here at the earliest, said a source in the department.
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