Bhopal: The BJP-led state government, which left no stone unturned to exalt the status of Narmada river as a divine mother, took a U-turn on Tuesday.
Introducing a pro-trader sand mining policy, the state cabinet gave a nod to a new policy under which any person will be free to excavate sand after paying a royalty of Rs 125 per cubic metre. Under the new policy, urban civic bodies and panchayats have been given the right to monitor sand mining.
State mining minister Rajendra Shukla told mediaperson that if someone does not want to buy sand from the traders he can “go to a ghat and dig out sand for himself!” Shukla argued that the new policy would boost the supply of sand, which will bring down the price of the mineral. “The current policy was generating more revenue for the government. New policy has been laid down to make sand cheaper for the common man,” he said.
Apparently, the new policy will help traders to get sand at much lower rates than earlier.
With the new policy coming into force, mining of sand from Narmada river would resume. Sand-laden trucks, dumpers and tractor-trolleys will not be subjected to any checking on the highways and other roads. However, mechanised mining will not be allowed. A couple of months back, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced a blanket ban on mining sand from the bed of Narmada river. Mechanised mining was banned on all rivers.
The government held two press conferences to announce the new policy on Tuesday. First, Narottam Mishra, spokesperson for the government, informed about the new policy to the mediapersons immediately after the cabinet meeting. In the evening, mining minister Rajendra Shukla addressed another press conference on the same issue.
Under the new policy, the urban civic bodies and panchayats would control the presently non-operational sand mines. The operational sand mines would continue to be governed by the older policy. Of the Rs 125 royalty, Rs 50 would go to the panchayat concerned, Rs 50 to District Mineral Foundation and Rs 25 to Mining Corporation.
Shukla said that the royalty would have to be paid online. According to Shukla, there are 1,266 sand mines in the state of which only 445 have been auctioned. The new policy would be applicable to the 821 non-operational mines.