Under scanner: Sand mining near Kharkai
Ranchi, Aug. 6: The now booming construction industry in the capital and other important cities of Jharkhand is all set to feel the heat of the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) stay on sand mining activities in river beds that do not have a proper environmental clearance.
Builders across the state are apprehending a steep rise in sand rates after monsoon and an increased “dada giri by mafia” if a strong policy is not enacted to regulate the entire mining process.
On Monday, the environmental court passed an interim order on a petition filed by the National Green Tribunal Bar Association in the wake of the suspension of IAS Durga Shakti Nagpal. She had initiated a drive against illegal sand mining in Gautam Buddha Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh.
Mines secretary Satendra Singh confirmed to The Telegraph that the order would be implemented in Jharkhand as well. “It is applicable throughout the country and we have to abide by it,” he said over telephone from New Delhi today.
In Jharkhand, sites are auctioned annually by the mining department and the highest bidder is given a licence to extract sand. Mining activities take place primarily on the banks of around 11 rivers — Subernarekha, Kharkai, South Koel, North Koel, Barakar, Damodar, Sankh, Mayurakshi, Kiul, Kanchi and Punpun.
But, going by the interim order, the mining department will now have to obtain an environmental clearance from the Union ministry of forests and environment for a specific site before allowing mining there.
A.K. Srivastava, the chairman of Builders’ Association of India (Jamshedpur chapter), said immediate impact of the order would not be felt because of monsoon.
“The sand which is available now was extracted before the rains. Mining will resume only after water levels in the rivers recede. But by then, the detailed guidelines regarding the mining will come, which will increase the prices,” he said.
There are two kinds of sand that comes from mines taken on lease through auctions. Fine sand (used for plastering walls) comes for Rs 3,600 per truck and the coarse variety is priced at Rs 2,400 per truck.
Kumud Jha, the president of Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (Jharkhand chapter), said, “This order will be opposed across the nation. Prices of all other building materials are already high. And if sand, too, becomes dearer, the real estate industry will be badly hit. I do not know how to react to the order, but I am sure the order will increase illegal sand mining.”
A builder, unwilling to be named, claimed prices would shoot up three fold if sand had to be obtained only from sites with green clearance.