Data says no FIR registered, merely Rs 15 lakh fine realized
*Rules not being strictly enforced by G&M
JAMMU, Nov 30: The Geology and Mining Department is keeping the Indian Bureau of Mines in the dark on the illegal mining, which otherwise has assumed alarming proportion in the length and breadth of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, Minor Mineral Concession, Storage, Transportation and Prevention of Illegal Mining Rules, 2016 are not being strictly enforced by the department for obvious reasons.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that the Indian Bureau of Mines has been established by the Union Ministry of Mines to promote systematic and scientific development and optimum utilization of mineral resources of the country. In order to achieve this objective, the Bureau collects, collate and organize into a database the information on exploration of mines and minerals, ensures coordination between the Centre and the States/UTs and guiding them on checking illegal mining besides on several other aspects relating to the mineral industry.
Keeping in view the mandate of the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), a subordinate office under the Ministry of Mines, all the States and Union Territories are required to share information about the illegal mining and action taken after noticing such illegalities.
However, unlike all other States and UTs of the country, the Geology and Mining Department of J&K Union Territory is keeping the Indian Bureau of Mines in dark about the illegal mining, which otherwise has assumed alarming proportion mainly because of nexus between the officials of the department and the mafia, sources said.
As per the data, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR, no information about illegal mining of major and minor minerals was shared with the Indian Bureau of Mines during 2016-17 while as during 2017-18, it was reported that 1485 such cases took place in the J&K.
Again in the year 2018-19, no such information was furnished to the Bureau. Even during the current year (2019-20) the Bureau has not been informed about the cases of illegal mining which have come to the notice of Geology and Mining Department of J&K.
The data reveals that from 2016-17 to June 2019-20 neither any FIR about illegal mining was registered nor court cases filed. The most shocking aspect is that Geology and Mining Department has conveyed to the Indian Bureau of Mines that in 1485 cases, which were detected in the year 2017-18, fine to the tune of Rs 15.89 lakh only was realized from the violators of the law.
It is pertinent to mention here that under Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, the States/UTs have been empowered to frame rules for preventing illegal mining and transportation and storage of mineral. Therefore, prevention and control of illegal mining comes under the legislative and administrative jurisdiction of Governments in the States and UTs.
As per this provision of the Act of 1957, J&K notified Minor Mineral Concession, Storage, Transportation of Minerals and Prevention of Illegal Mining Rules, 2016 vide SRO 105 dated March 31, 2016.
Chapter-XII of these Rules, which deals with illegal or un-authorized mining, states: For the first time violation, the mineral shall be liable to be seized along with the impounding of all such tools, equipment, vehicles or any other thing used for unauthorized or illegal operation, which may be released only after recovery of price of mineral along with its royalty and a fine of Rs 10,000.
For second time violation, the Rules prescribe impounding of tools and vehicles besides fine of not less than Rs 20,000 while as for the third time or more violation the violator is required to face FIR.
“The absurd admission of the Geology and Mining Department before the Indian Bureau of Mines that no FIR was registered even after detection of 1485 illegal mining cases in 2017-18 is the clear indication of violation of Section 80 and 81 of the Rules”, sources said, adding “it seems that facilitating mining mafia in illegal activities is the priority of the Geology and Mining Department instead of strictly implementing the Rules”.
They further said, “it is a matter of serious concern that despite alarming rise in illegal mining in the length and breadth of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir the Geology and Mining Department is not sharing exact information with the Indian Bureau of Mines”.
Sources stressed that Lieutenant Governor should take serious note of this and ensure that true picture about illegal mining is projected before the IBM.
It may be recalled that in the recent past the Principal Secretary to Government, Industries and Commerce Department sought a detailed report about illegal mining from the Director of Geology and Mining Department after numerous instances of illegalities were highlighted in the media.