State of affairs: Rajasthan

Despite SC order, mining flourishing

Despite the Supreme Court order restraining 82 large sand/bajri mining lease-holders in Rajasthan, ‘bajri’ mining continues to flourish with the sand mafia getting a four-fold rise in rates up to Rs 32,000 per truck.

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Yash Goyal

Despite the Supreme Court order restraining 82 large sand/bajri mining lease-holders in Rajasthan, ‘bajri’ mining continues to flourish with the sand mafia getting a four-fold rise in rates up to Rs 32,000 per truck. This has brought the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and various state projects to a grinding halt. Lakhs of labourers and thousands of small contractors, and transporters have been left in the lurch.

A Division Bench of the apex court, had in its order restrained 82 mining lease/quarry holders from carrying out mining of sand and bajri, “unless a scientific replenishment study is fully and dispassionately considered by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and an environmental clearance is granted or rejected.”

The  SC order followed a Special Leave Petition by the lease holders against the adverse High Court order of October 21, 2013. Complying with the SC order, the state Mining Department has banned mining in 53 blocks, mainly in Jaipur, Alwar, Tonk and Sawaimadhopur riverbeds. If the state government does not reply in four weeks, there is a possibility that quarrying in all riverbeds, except Chambal and Mahi, may be banned.

Co-petitioner Dharampal Meena says a lease-holder and his ‘men’ are no longer quarrying in their auctioned areas but have moved towards Chouth-ka-Barwara subdivision since years. The Banas river-bed is perforated and its water is drying out, affecting water supply to several villages. “Officially, this belt is supplying 40,000 tonnes of bajri through 2,500 trucks. But the actual number is 10,000 trucks,” he says. 

Crime graph

Celebrating the four years of the Vasundhara Raje rule, Home Minister GC Katria had claimed that the crime rate in the state had dropped by 8.9% whereas it had risen to 30% during the earlier Gehlot regime. 

But data with the National Crime Record Bureau contradicts tis claim, with Rajasthan ranked fourth in crime against women and Jaipur placed third in gangrapes (13 in 2016). Also, despite the state government setting up special check posts at Alwar and Bharatpur for cow protection, containing cattle smuggling and keeping a watch on gau rakshaks, the Pehlu Khan and Ummar Khan incidents made the headlines worldwide. 

Folk deity

A Rs 3.5 crore panorama on Ramdevji, a folk deity who devoted his life to uplifting the downtrodden, has been dedicated to lakhs of devotees turning up at an annual fair at Ramdevra in Jaisalmer in August-September. It depicts Ramdevji’s divine powers and beliefs. Considered as Vishnu’s avtar, Randevji took samadhi at the age of 33 years in 1384 CE. The popular belief is that any person afflicted with a skin disease is cured if he bathes in Ramsagar sarovar. The panorama, carved in stone and spread over 10 bighas, was created by hundreds of labourers in just 18 months. 

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