Shimla, February 9
A Cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur today approved an amendment to the Himachal Pradesh Minor Minerals (Concession) and Minerals (Prevention of Illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage) Rules, 2015 to ensure an optimum use of minor minerals. The decision was purportedly taken to end the stalemate resulting from the strike of the contractors that had resulted in halting of all development works in the state.
The amendment to the existing Act will help in the optimum utilisation of extracted minerals for use in the construction of roads, retaining walls, breast walls and for soling. This would also facilitate easy availability of minerals such as stones and sand, particularly in rural areas, for construction purposes.
The Cabinet also gave nod to inserting a rule providing that if a person, who is not a mining lease holder and has not violated rules, could not provide the transit form, he shall be liable to pay royalty at the applicable rates and a penalty at the rate of 25 per cent of the royalty applicable.
It also decided that in cases relating to construction of roads by different departments/ agencies of the state government, the mining officers would grant permission for the use of minor minerals generated during the progress of such works, exclusively for captive use (in-situ) in the same work, which is the construction of roads, retaining walls, breast walls and soling up to the extent of 10,000 MT per month at a time and not exceeding 20,000 MT per work. The report of the engineer in-charge of the work, not below the rank of Assistant Engineer, would be mandatory for the purpose.
In fact, the Cabinet meeting was held to resolve the grievances of the Himachal Pradesh Contractors Association, which had proceeded on strike from February 7 to 22 in support of its demands. The association rued that the payments of contractors had been pending since Diwali last year and they were facing a lot of problems as a transit pass for minor minerals like stones, gatka, grit, and sand had been made mandatory.
The contractors had also lamented that the GST on agreements entered into before July 2017 had not been reimbursed till date. They had refused to provide machinery to the government and also decided to boycott all tenders and development works of government departments. However, on the request of Urban Development Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, they had agreed to provide JCB machines for snow clearance in the state.
Night curfew lifted
- The Cabinet decided to lifted night curfew following a decline in Covid cases.
- It also decided to allow gatherings on all social, religious, cultural, political and other occasions, including marriages and funerals, at 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue, both in indoor and outdoor areas.
- The night curfew was imposed on January 5.
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