BENGALURU: In a freewheeling interaction with the editorial team of The New Indian Express, Minister for Mines and Geology Murugesh Rudrappa Nirani on Tuesday spoke at length about his plans for the ministry. It has been barely 60 days since he took charge, but Nirani has a route map already charted out for the department.
After all stone mining and crushing units were ordered to be shut down in the State, following two back-to-back mining tragedies, Nirani on Monday took a decision to revoke the order and get units started on production. “Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) licences have been mandatory for around 50 years now, but barely anyone has heard of them. The crackdown cannot be a knee-jerk reaction affecting mine owners, employees, material supply for construction and the State’s revenue. Barely 10% of 2,500 stone quarries and stone-crushing units have this licence and only 10 new ones can probably be made in a day. It is practically unviable to keep mines shut,” Nirani said.
From resurveying gold mines in KGF to converting gold mined in Hutti into memorabilia, and encouraging investments in the mining sector, the minister is keen on increasing the State’s revenue multifold. “To curb corruption, a central GPS (geo positioning system) to track all sand mining vehicles will be implemented. We plan on giving free sand for construction of houses costing less than `10 lakh. The requirement of sand will be assessed based on the floor plan of all new constructions and sand cost levied accordingly, with permission to source sand from any permitted area. For government projects, the cost of sand will be sent to the department’s account directly,” the minister said, explaining a few components of the yet-to-be unveiled new sand policy for the State.
Nirani is keen on new investments, auctions and PPPs in the department, and hopes to have a mine investors’ meet soon. “It is impossible to undertake G1 mineral exploration across the state since it is expensive and time consuming, but we can undertake G3 exploration and invite investors. We will encourage them to take up exploration and submit detailed project reports and then proceed to auction blocks. Since 2010, mining has been a taboo subject in the State. We have 166 mines, of which 66 are under C category that have been cancelled and can be reauctioned. Of the other 100, 66 have been auctioned -- 32 are functioning, 34 aren’t. The remaining 34 are in the stage of auction,” Nirani said.