Himachal’s only rock salt mine closed

Shimla: North India’s only rock salt mines located in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district have been shut down due to certain lapses by the Hindustan Salts Limited(HSL) a Central government enterprise.

This was stated in the Himachal state assembly today by the state industries minister Kishan Kapoor after the matter was raised by the opposition Congress leader Kaul Singh Thakur.

“HSL has failed to obtain forest clearances and not paid Himachal’s royalty of Rs 30,7100( Rs 3 million) claimed by the state government since 2003,” said Kapoor.

“Extraction work at the mines located at Gumma and Darang area was stopped on 15 January 2011 by the state government due to non clearance from the environment and forestry ministry,” the minister said.

Kapoor said the mines had 58 million tonnes of total deposits of which only a tiny 14,488 tonnes had been extracted so far.The state government had sent six notices to HSL regarding non payment of royalty since 2007.

Thakur said cattle and sheep rearers across the state were facing difficulty in procuring this ‘lick salt’ for the animals.

But the minister said there was no shortage of rock salt in the state.

Besides being the only rock salt mines in northern India these mines are also a tourist attraction.The royal family of Mandi owned these mines once.But they were taken over by the Centre after independence.

In a 20 year career published widely. He has worked for the BBC, AFP, The Statesman, IANS and the Business Standard . Known for his hard hitting writing and occasional off-beat stories. He lives in Shimla.

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