Fine not paid, 100 illegal stone crushers face closure

DHARAMSALA: The government is likely to order the closure of about 40 stone crushers in Kangra district and 60 in other parts of the state. The closure is being ordered as stone crusher owners are not paying penalty worth about Rs 150 crore to the government.

Fine not paid, 100 illegal stone crushers face closure

Forty stone crushers in Kangra district owe Rs 80 crore to the state government as penalty for illegal mining.

editorial@tribune.com

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, May 23

The government is likely to order the closure of about 40 stone crushers in Kangra district and 60 in other parts of the state. The closure is being ordered as stone crusher owners are not paying penalty worth about Rs 150 crore to the government.

Highly placed sources in the Mining Department said the decision assumed significance as many stone crushers were owned by ruling party MLAs or office-bearers of the party.

Minister for Industries Bikram Thakur was not available for comments despite repeated attempts to contact him on the phone.

Forty stone crushers in Kangra district owe Rs 80 crore to the state government as penalty for illegal mining. Despite the fact that the stone crusher owners have lost the case in the Supreme Court, they have neither paid the amount to the government, nor submitted any schedule repayment.

Interestingly, about 25 stone crushers are still being allowed to operate by the authorities. In Kangra district, most of the violating stone crushers are in Nurpur.

Mining officer in Nurpur Naresh Kumar said notices had been issued to the stone crusher owners to deposit the penalty. The closure of stone crushers would be ordered once orders were received from the higher authorities.

Sources said most of the illegal stone crushers were owned by politically influential people or their families. The issue was also raised in the Assembly. BJP MLA from Nurpur Rakesh Pathania had raised it after he was targeted by some party MLAs over illegal mining. The mining officer said since the present BJP government took over, power connections of 25 illegal stone crushers were snapped.

The department that is responsible for checking illegal mining is ill-equipped. The Nurpur mining office, where the maximum cases of illegal mining are reported, has the staff of just two members, the mining officer and inspector. Both do not have any vehicle to go to the field and are dependent on the police for action against violators.

The state government has increased the penalty for illegal mining to Rs 5 lakh. However, no one has been fined.

‘Political connect’ 

  • Sources said most of the illegal stone crushers were owned by politically influential people or their families. The issue was also raised in the Assembly. BJP MLA from Nurpur Rakesh Pathania had raised it after he was targeted by some party MLAs over illegal mining.
  • Mining officer in Nurpur Naresh Kumar said since the present BJP government took over, power connections of 25 illegal stone crushers were snapped.

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