Uttarakhand govt eases commercial mining on private land, empowers district magistrates to give permission

Hindustan Times | Feb 13, 2020

Earlier, the patta holder had to seek the permission from state government for mining of river bed material.

In a major move, the Uttarakhand government empowered district magistrates to permit commercial mining on private land in the state. Earlier, the permission was given by the state government itself.

The decision was taken by the government during its cabinet meeting led by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at state secretariat on Wednesday. There were 13 proposals which were discussed; out of these, 10 were approved while remaining three were kept for further discussion in the next cabinet meeting.

Madan Kaushik, cabinet minister and spokesperson of state government, while informing mediapersons about the decision, said the district magistrates of all the 13 districts of state would now have the power to permit mining on private land.

“Now after the government decision, a patta holder (deed holder) of a private land would need to apply before the respective district magistrate with appropriate documents to seek permission for mining on it. After verifying the documents the district magistrate could give permission for mining,” said Kaushik.

Earlier, the patta holder had to seek the permission from state government for mining of river bed material including gravels, boulders and sand which are majorly used in construction works.

Lauding the decision, Kauhsik said, “It would help the patta holders earn income and in a way generate employment.”

However, activists who have been working against illegal mining in the state claims, the move is to “favour the mining mafia.”

Raghunath Singh Negi, Uttarakhand-based environmental activist and founder of Jansangharsh Morcha said, “The decision is clearly to facilitate the mining mafia operating in the state. Now, it would be easy for the mafia to seek permission as the power to do so is with the district magistrates only.”

He added, “Earlier the state government made some decisions to that went in favour mining mafia including increasing the limit of depth for mining from 1.50 metre to 3 metre in riverbeds.”

In other decisions, the government also introduced an amendment in the rules and regulations which will allow authorities to declare class 5 and 8 students as ‘failed’ if they don’t secure pass percentage under Right to Education scheme

Kaushik said, “Earlier as per the norms, no child was to be failed in class 5 and 8. However later there was an amendment made by the Centre according to which, there would be a test for those children who fail in the final examinations of aforementioned classes. If the children again fail in the test to be held after two months, then they would be declared failed.”

He also informed that the “next budget session would be held from March 3 to March 6 in Gairsain in Chamoli district.”

Kaushik also informed that cabinet approved changes in boundaries of eco-sensitive zone around Corbett Tiger Reserve in the state. Kaushik said, “In most of the places the radius for eco-sensitive zone has been kept at least one kilometer from the boundary of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, but villages which are attached to the boundary of the reserve have been kept outside the ESZ.”

“In very few cases like Dhela village and other nearby villages, the distance has been reduced to zero kilometer to exclude them from the eco-sensitive zone. But more or less, maximum distance of ESZ is more than one kilometre in most cases,” said Rahul, field director of Corbett Tiger Reserve, who uses his first name.