The Draft Sand Mining Recommendations prepared by the Ministry of Mines suggests a proper regulatory mechanism to ensure adequacy in supply of sand and to keep any exorbitant increase in price under check. “The entire process of sale and delivery of sand should be made online to bring in more transparency in the entire process and provide for better control over illegal operations,” suggested the Draft.
The Ministry of Mines has prepared Draft Sand Mining Recommendations which would address concerns of sand mining and ensure availability of sand while maintaining the sustainability in sand mining. The Ministry of Mines has invited comments and suggestions from the public, State Governments and Union Territories mining industries, stake holders, industry associations and other persons and entities concerned, on the draft guidelines.
“Despite judicial interventions and the measures undertaken by the Central government and the state governments, issues of illegal mining, environmental damage and high sand prices, which are interlinked with each other, remain across many states. In view of this, a committee chaired by the Union Secretary, Ministry of Mines comprising of officials of state governments has been constituted vide order dated 18th May 2017 to study the existing system of sand mining in various states and prepare a uniform set of guidelines that can be followed by states,” says the Draft.
Some of the Draft Recommendations are
The Draft Recommendations call for district wise demand estimation by the mining department of the state. Thereupon, the department should estimate for the entire state and accordingly come up with the requirement of further allotments. The department needs to obtain the khasra map of the area and conduct spot inspection and confirm from other departments regarding availability of area to check if the area is not reserved for some other purpose and can be allotted for sand. The district survey report (DSR) shall be prepared by the state government as per the MoEFCC’s Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines 2016. Such survey will help in estimating the annual quantity of sand available in a particular district. Further, the states need to complete the replenishment study for which they need to train the personnel.
Based on the estimated demand, the mining department should assess the need for further allotment of sand concessions. Even if the demand of a particular district is low, adjacent sand deficit districts can be considered for fulfilling their demand.
The Draft favours auction of smaller area for large number of contractors to avoid concentration of mining in few hands. “The lease area to be granted for auction should be capped at 100 Ha (in case of co-operative societies) and 50 Ha (in case of Individual) to avoid concentration of sand supply in a few hands. A smaller area will lead to usage of manual methods, as compared to larger areas where mining is mechanized. Also, the minimum area can be fixed at 5 Ha. In addition, the maximum area a person can hold for sand mining in a district through multiple leases should be restricted to 100 Ha.”
The Draft suggested obtaining of clearances and approvals by the concerned state department before allocating the mine or bidding out the block for mining. The Draft felt that lengthy and time-consuming procedure for obtaining approvals often encourage the contractors to byepass the rules and therefore, it is always advisable to obtain them beforehand.
The allocation model to be considered by a state depends on the objective of the state. If the state’s objective is revenue maximization then it can follow the market model; however if the state desires to keep the prices and operations under control, then it can follow the notified price model.
Irrespective of the allocation model and whoever has the control over operations, sand mining should take place only in accordance with the terms and conditions of the environmental clearance and the lease deed or license, and methods approved in the quarrying plan.
Transportation of sand needs to be regulated to ensure that cartel formation among the transporters does not take place leading to high prices of sand in the state. It is more important in states that are sand deficit and need to transport sand over long distances to reach the consumption hubs.