Mining ban causing big revenue loss to Himachal: minister


imageShimla :A blanket ban on river mining by the Central green tribunal has triggered illegal mining across Himachal Pradesh. It was also causing royalty loss to the state exchequer.

Stating this here Tuesday the state industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri said river mining was adversely affecting development activities like housing and road construction across the hill state .

“We will request the central environment ministry to take up the matter speedily with the green tribunal and try to lift the ban,” Agnihotri told reporters .

“The state exchequer is suffering heavy loss. But despite the ban river mining is going on all over the state and we cannot claim royalty from them,” the minister said .

“The state has a huge network of rivers and streams.But scientific mining of these river beds needs to be done from time,” the minister explained.
“We are also requesting the environment ministry to clear environmental requests to set up all types of mining units,” Agnihotri said .
Currently 188 lease mines are awaiting environment clearance and 166 are operational as their lease is due to expire soon.

“We can earn a royalty of Rs 250 crore.Two years ago the state government earned Rs 150 crore, last year this fell to Rs 100 crore and will remain the same this fiscal year,” he said .

The industry department on Tuesday also decided to start auctioning non river mining units in Una,Hamirpur and Kangra districts .

“But permission can only be given in the remaining nine districts when the Centre gives environment clearance due to forest cover in these areas,” the minister said .

Speaking about the rich white cement mine deposits in Sirmaur district’s Nauradhar area which has 4 million tonne deposits.

“The Fertiliser Corporation of India (FCI) initially showed a lot of interest in extracting white cement at Nauradhar but has lost interest in the project. So we are inviting fresh bids now,” he said.

There was also delay by the Hindustan Salt Ltd(HSL) to start extracting salt in Mandi district which has deposits worth Rs 300 crore .