Tightening noose around mining mafia remains least priority for majority of DCs

Framing of Distt Level Task Force Cell fails to yield positive results
Neither illegalities identified, nor cases referred for action
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 29: Tightening noose around those indulging in illegal mining and causing damage to ecology and environment has remained least priority for majority of the Deputy Commissioners despite explicit directions in this regard from the General Administration Department. Due to this, neither illegal acts of the mafia could be identified nor action taken against them as per the law.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that on the request of the Industries and Commerce Department, the General Administration Department vide Government Order No.1569 dated October 22, 2018 constituted Multi-Departmental District Level Task Force Cell in the Geology and Mining Department.
The Deputy Commissioner (concerned) was made Chairman of the District Level Task Force Cell with Superintendent of Police, Assistant Commissioner Revenue, Executive Engineer concerned of Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Divisional Forest Officer and Mineral Officer, Geology and Mining Department as its members. District Mineral Officer (concerned) was made Member Secretary of the Task Force Cell.
The mandate of the Task Force Cell was to identify sites located beyond the boundaries of leaseholds and agencies involved in illegal mining activities and quantify material extracted on account of illegal mining and imposition of penalties including cost material, royalty and its recovery.
Moreover, the Task Force was required to refer such illegal mining activities to the Director, Geology and Mining Department empowered for such purpose in accordance with rules for necessary action.
Being Chairman of the Task Force, the Deputy Commissioners were also required to ensure inspection of mining belts with respect to title of the land, status of mining pits/benches with regard to existence of flora and fauna including forestation etc and examining the cases related to safety besides safeguarding ecology and geo-environment and highlighting the area of immediate concern and remedial measures.
However, majority of the Deputy Commissioners have yet not completed the basic work although they were authorized to constitute sub-committee if it is found necessary to enforce the Terms of Reference in more effective manner, sources said while disclosing that Geology and Mining Department has not received any case of illegal mining activities from any of the Deputy Commissioners till date.
“In some districts sub-committees have been framed by the Deputy Commissioners but no progressive report has been furnished till date which clearly establishes that tightening noose around those indulging in illegal mining has remained least priority for majority of the Deputy Commissioners”, sources in the Geology and Mining Department said.
Stating that initiative of framing District Level Task Force Cell has failed to yield the desirable results till date due to slackness on the part of officers, who are the members of the Cell, sources informed that Multi-Department Task Force was also required to identify sites where e-auction of material in quarry belts is to be undertaken and check whether extraction of major mineral is permitted under the garb of minor mineral.
The intent behind constitution of Multi-Department Task Force was to check whether the labourers working in the mines are exploited by the owners in respect of wages and facilities and denied the benefits of labour laws and mines regulation, sources further informed, adding the Task Force was also supposed to prevent illegal miners/forest contractors from violating rules of the Geology and Mining Department but no substantial progress has been made in this regard in several districts of the State.
“Since the Task Force Cell has failed to start acting on the basic points of the Terms of Reference there are remote chances of submission of annual progress reports of study and analysis together with the recommendations to the Industries and Commerce Department”, sources said.
They also expressed doubts about the Task Force Cell strictly enforcing Jammu and Kashmir Minor Mineral Concession, Storage and Transportation of Minerals and Prevention of Illegal Mining Rules, 2016 and Jammu and Kashmir Minor Mineral Exploitation and Processing Rules 2017, which is also the mandate clearly defined in the Government Order No.1569-GAD dated October 22, 2018.
“The slackness on the part of the Multi-Departmental District Task Force in checking illegal mining activities is notwithstanding the fact that State High Court, while dealing with Public Interest Litigations on the subject, has passed numerous directions for checking illegal activities of mining mafia across the State to protect the water bodies from open plunder and subsequent safeguarding of ecology”, sources said.


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