Geology & Mining, other deptts in dock for collusion
No action on findings of joint survey, mafia enjoying free hand
JAMMU, Aug 27: Illegal mining worth several crores of rupees in Ravi River by the mafia in direct connivance with the field staff of the Geology and Mining Department has been detected by a joint team of different departments. However, no action has been taken on the findings by the concerned authorities thereby giving free hand to those indulging in flagrant violation of Jammu and Kashmir Minor Mineral Concession, Storage, Transportation of Minerals and Prevention of Illegal Mining Rules, 2016.
According to the sources in the General Administration and Irrigation and Flood Control Departments, which have been given the copies of the findings, a joint team of Irrigation and Flood Control, Roads and Buildings, Rural Development and Forest Departments was constituted last month by the District Development Commissioner Kathua on the basis of complaints about large scale illegal mining in various rivers and rivulets of district Kathua particularly Ravi River basin near Keerian Gandiyal area.
The team assisted by Geology and Mining and Revenue Departments conducted survey of the area near Keerian Gandiyal bridge on August 1 and 2, 2019 to verify the complaints of widespread illegal mining.
During the survey, it came to the fore that only two mining leases have been allotted by the Geology and Mining Department in the area—one at Keerian Gandiyal, downstream of the bridge (19.94 hectare area) and another at Jagatpur, upstream of the bridge (also of 19.94 hectare area). The total permissible excavation on the allotted mining lease at village Keerian Gandiyal is 11 lakh Metric Tonne per annum and at village Jagatpur the same is 9 lakh Metric Tonne per annum.
However, during ground verification 233.73 lakh Metric Tonne of minor minerals were found extracted from this small segment of Ravi River basin, which attracts penalty to the tune of Rs 50 crore to be imposed on the minor leases and crusher units established in the vicinity. Moreover, at many places in Keerian Gandiyal area 14 meters to 16 meters deep excavations have been made in blatant violation of the rules.
“Since district Kathua of J&K and district Pathankot of Punjab share their borders along the Ravi River, many residents of Punjab directly or indirectly have high stakes in mining leases and crusher units operational in Kathua”, sources said, adding “it has also come to the fore that legal or illegal challans being issued by the mining leases in district Kathua are being used in duplication both by the crusher units operational in this district as well as adjoining district of Pathankot”.
Stating that startling facts too came to the fore during the joint inspections of some of the crusher units in the district, sources informed that huge quantity of illegally stacked river bed material/crushed material was found in seven stone crusher units without payment of due royalty to the department.
A total of 21619.5 MT of minor minerals was found illegally stored in M/s Narsingh Stone Crusher Langerial, 40837.31 MT in M/s Jagdambay Stone Crusher and M/s R S Screening Stone Crusher Langerial, 15968 MT in M/s Shiva Stone Crusher Langerial, 33385.811 MT in M/s Sain and Sons Stone Crusher Jungi Chak, 91279.86 MT in M/s Raavi Stone Crusher Keerian, 54069 MT in M/s C&C Constructions Limited Keerian Gandiyal and 70370 MT in M/s Puri Stone Crusher Gandiyal.
“This quantity of illegal stores/dumped minor minerals in the crusher units is a pointer towards flagrant violations of the Jammu and Kashmir Minor Mineral Concession, Storage, Transportation of Minerals and Prevention of Illegal Mining Rules, 2016”, sources said, adding “during surprise inspections widespread discrepancies between the sale and purchase records of these crusher units were also noticed and this has clearly established that majority of the raw material used by the crusher units was acquired by way of illegal mining in the area”.
Putting Geology and Mining Department officials in the dock, sources said, “the department is issuing non specific GRs in favour of crusher units/contractors for excavation of minor minerals and such GRs don’t indicate the prescribed area from where the minor minerals are to be extracted, date of excavation, type of vehicle etc just to facilitate the illegal activities”.
Pointing towards the recent surprise checks conducted by ADC Basohli, sources further said that despite positioning of mineral guard by the Geology and Mining Department at the access points of various rivers only few number of challans were being issued by the staff despite large number of tractor, trolleys, loaders and trucks doing mining in the river bed every day. “Even in case of challans being issued by the department staff, most of them do not contain the location of mineral concession area, time of dispatch, vehicle number, tupe of vehicle, name and address of buyer etc”, sources added.
As per the environmental clearance conditions of the allotted mining leases in Keerian Gandiyal area in Ravi River basin, no mining is allowed for 2-3 months during the monsoon period. However, Geology and Mining Department has issued challan for excavation even during the monsoon period.
It has also been noticed that minor toll posts of the Excise and Taxation Department are deficient in staff, lack CCTV cameras and are without the facilities of electronic weigh bridges etc thereby creating impediments in regulating the mining sector. “Moreover, no matching of records is being done by the Geology and Mining Department staff with the record of the Excise and Taxation Department at these toll posts which is the clearly indication of pilferage /illegal mining”, sources said.
Despite large scale discrepancies pointed out in the report of joint survey and during inspections, no action has so far been taken by those at the helm of affairs in the Geology and Mining Department, sources in the General Administration and Irrigation and Flood Control Departments said, adding “the Geology and Mining Department is required to conduct special audit of the activities relating to mining and operation of crusher units in the district”.
“Moreover, the departmental officials posted at the sites where illegal mining is taking place are required to be booked under the relevant provisions of the law and departmental enquiry initiated against them”, they further said.
When contacted, almost all those officers who were involved in joint survey said, “we have not heard about any action initiated by the Geology and Mining Department”.