‘Ban lifted to save interest of quarry lessees’

Industries dept issues clarification on why govt lifted ban on mining within 1-km radius of reserve forest boundaries

Published: 25th December 2022 05:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th December 2022 05:05 AM   |  A+A-

Sand mining underway. (Photo| Express)

Image used for representation (Photo| Express)

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Following opposition from certain quarters to the state government lifting the ban on mining within a 1-km radius of reserve forest boundaries, the industries department on Saturday clarified that the decision was taken to protect the interest of the quarry/mine lessees and to augment government revenue.

“Mining and quarrying are still not permissible within a 1-km radius of the boundaries of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves and elephant corridors. This is in consonance with the orders of the Supreme Court and the guidelines of the union ministry of environment and forests pertaining to the eco-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries,” a statement from the department read.

Confusion had prevailed following the inclusion of “reserve forests” in an order last year. Craftsmen and artisans, including potters and sculptors, in different parts of the state, made representations to the government against the inclusion. According to the industries department, over 500 quarries and mines were affected, including 19 quarries of the Tamil Nadu Minerals.

On August 31 this year, minister for water resources Durai Murugan announced in the Assembly that archaeological sites/monuments, ancient inscriptions, and Jain beds will be protected from quarrying operations. A departmental review meeting conducted by Chief Minister MK Stalin directed that the safe distance already prescribed in the rules be extended further to prohibit quarrying activity in the elephant corridors and the tiger reserves and to protect the buildings in the habitations from quarrying activities.

Accordingly, a new clause (e) in sub-rule (1-A) of rule 36 of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules (TNMMCR) was added by which quarrying or mining activities are prohibited within a 1 km radius of national parks, sanctuaries, tiger reserves, elephant corridors and reserve forests. The term “reserve forests” was included in the order despite not having been specifically announced.

Subsequently, during the state Budget 2022-2023 session, the water resources minister said on April 19, that due to the restriction to quarry within a 1 km radius of “reserve forest”, a number of practical difficulties have arisen. He then said in order to protect the interest of the quarry/mine lessees and to augment government revenue, the necessary amendments would be made to the above rule. Subsequently, the government ordered the deletion of the term, the statement added.

India Matters


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