BHUBANESWAR: Odisha government is set to introduce a sand policy that will look to use technology for scientific mining and curb the menace of illegal excavation through extensive source-to-destination movement tracking, replenishment strategy and penalising violators.
With the National Green Tribunal (NGT) stipulating that states put a check on illegal sand mining through enforcement and compensation basing on polluter-pays principle, a spate of stringent measure awaits miners as well as the organised mafia in the midst of an alarming smuggling trend.
The Revenue and Disaster Management Department is working on the Odisha Sand Policy 2021 which will not only institutionalise scientific mining and management of sand but at the same time, use IT-enabled services for monitoring movement from source to end-users.
Though the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines (SSMMG) 2016 and Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining (EMGSM) 2020 call for District Survey Report (DSR) for mining of sand, there has so far been little or no adherence to the same in the State.
The State has a minor mineral policy but the first such sand policy looks to put in place DSR for assessment in each district and map demand-supply trend by the competent authority. Inventory of river bed material and other sand resources and periodic audit of rivers will be carried out.
Similarly, identification of go and no-go zones and mining basing on environmental and social factors will also be made. Mining lease areas are proposed to be selected in a way that they do not overlap safety zones. Quarrying will not be allowed through mechanised suction and blasting.
Besides, movement and transportation routes will be clearly stipulated so that villages and habitations are not impacted.The policy looks at identification and quantification of all sand sources, e-auction for transparency and scientific and responsible sand mining where safety of river beds and environment will carry weightage.
Remote sensing technology and field agencies will identify sand sources suitable for mining while river systems, sand bed patterns, morphology and local topography will be studied so that sustainability can be ensured.
Auction will be made as per the Odisha Minor Mineral Rules 2016 while cluster mining will be given priority over individual mines when sources exist in clusters, the Revenue Department sources said.
Following the NGT orders which are binding on all states, Odisha Government is also preparing to bring into effect stringent measures to deal with the violators. Vehicles and equipment as well as excavators used during illegal mining and smuggling will attract heavy penalty.
For machines valued over Rs 25 lakh and less than 5 years old, penalty of Rs 4 lakh may be imposed. Those valued below Rs 25 lakh but 10 years of age could attract Rs 3 lakh fine and the rest Rs 2 lakh. Option for release of such vehicles and machine will be a month from the seizure.
While NGT has mandated period inspection and report, it has also called for creation of a funds pool collected through compensation so that it can be used for environment restoration.
Identification, quantification of sand sources
Following NGT orders, heavy penalty for violators are on the anvil
Use scientific methods and IT