Shimla: Having failed to control illegal mining in the state, the government earlier today decided to go for open auction of all quarry sites.
“Not only it would check illegal mining activities, it would also bring down prices of sand and grit in the state,” industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri said after having presided over a high level meeting that took the policy decision.
Starting with auction of 30 mines in Una district, the decision to auction all quarries, be they along river beds or on government and forest lands would then be followed up by doing so in Hamirpur and Kangra districts, the minister stated.
He said that mining plans were being prepared in a phased manner for other parts of the state.
The lease would be valid for 20 years so that right-holders could derive maximum benefit from the quarries. This would also provide a right to the lease-holder to ensure scientifically mining on such land, said Agnihotri.
Under the new policy being ushered, “up to three hectare land available for mining would be reserved for Himachalis, for which on an individual Himachali or a co-operative society of Himachalis would be eligible,” said the minister.
He added that not only provide them gainful employment be created but this would also discourage illegal mining as their own interests would be involved in it.
After terminating the lease periods of all old quarries, they too would be auctioned through open auction only, said Agnihotri.
The mining and industry department would be permitted to use their mineral resources in their open market or at their own crashers, but they would not be allowed to sell it to other crushers.
Those present in the meeting included principal secretary finance Dr Shrikant Baldi, principal secretary industries RD Dhiman, director industries Rajinder Singh, state geologist Inderesh Dhiman and other senior officers.