Use of heavy machinery for mining worries environmentalists in Kangra valley : The Tribune India

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Use of heavy machinery for mining worries environmentalists in Kangra valley

Use of heavy machinery for mining worries environmentalists in Kangra valley

Under the new Mineral Policy, heavy machinery is allowed to extract minerals. File photo



Our Correspondent

Palampur, April 5

Various environmental groups in the Kangra valley have criticised the decision of the state government to allow the use of heavy machinery for the extraction of sand and stone from rivers and rivulets under the new mineral policy released in February 2024.

The new policy of the state government has replaced the 11-year-old Mineral Policy-2013 brought by the Virbhadra Singh government. The Jai Ram Thakur government also followed the same policy.

However, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has amended the mining policy. The mining lobby was making efforts for the past 20 years for the permission to use heavy machinery for the extraction of minerals.

Under the new Mineral Policy, 2024, the state government has allowed the use of heavy machinery like the JCB and Poclain for the extraction of minerals from riverbeds up to the depth of 1 metre to 2 metre. Likewise, owners of stone crushers will also be allowed to use heavy machinery under the new policy.

Though the new policy claims that it would curb illegal mining and boost revenue, environmentalists apprehend that with the entry of heavy machinery, the new policy would encourage large-scale illegal mining in the state’s river and rivulets. Calling for a review of the decision, organisations working for the cause of environment have sought Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu’’s intervention.

Talking to reporters here yesterday, Ashwani Gautam of Save Neugal River, K B Ralhan of People’s Voice and Varun Bhuria of Save Himalayas and Environment Healers said they had aired their concerns over alleged illegal mining in the rivers and rivulets of the Kangra valley like Beas, Neugal, Mandh and Mol khuds.

Ralhan said once the heavy machinery was allowed to enter the rivers it would play havoc with the nature in the absence of any check from the state mining department.

They alleged that because of rampant corruption in the mining department the illegal mining has flourished in Kangra and Una districts in the past few years.

He alleged that the NGT and High Court had many times opposed the use of heavy machinery for extraction of sand, stones and other minerals from the rivers in the state as most rivers passed through protected forest, which were eco-sensitive zones.

“In a significant order, the Supreme Court has directed that each protected forest should have an eco-sensitive zone of 1 km. Mining within national wildlife sanctuaries or national parks cannot be permitted.” he said.

#Kangra #Palampur


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