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Cabinet okays sand ghat truce

Ranchi, Dec. 12: The state cabinet today ratified chief minister Hemant Soren’s decision to nullify auctioning of riverbanks and hand them over to local panchayati raj institutions for sand mining.

It was further decided that the state government would soon initiate a process to terminate sand mining contracts bagged by companies through the open auction in 10 districts. They will also be informed why the auction has been nullified.

New rules and regulations will be framed for sand mining and digging work for brick kilns. This apart, the state will also impart training on how to mine sand without endangering the environment.

“Sand is a minor mineral. Hence, environmental clearance is a must for sand mining. The panchayati raj institutions will have to apply for environmental clearances from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Committee. Those who will be tasked by the village bodies to lift sand from riverbeds will also be taught how to go about the process without harming the environment,” said cabinet coordination department’s principal secretary J.B. Tubid.

However, such specialised tips will come at a fee. The state will charge Rs 2,500 for offering lessons on how to mine sand up to half an acre land, Rs 5,000 for 0.5 to one acre, Rs 15,000 for 1 to 2.4 acres and Rs 1,00,000 for 2.5 to 50 acres.

The chief minister, who has been facing strong opposition from all political parties, including coalition partners Congress and RJD, for allowing open auction of sand ghats, withdrew his order after a meeting with allies yesterday.

RJD legislature party leader Annapurna Devi, who had stayed away from yesterday’s meeting attended by the Congress’s Sukhdeo Bhagat and C.S. Dubey, said today: “I welcome the cabinet decision. I am sure the state government will also solve other issues in a similar way.”

The water resources minister had earlier threatened to withdraw her party’s support to the Hemant government on the sand auction stand-off.

The state was able to carry out auction in 10 districts, earning around Rs 42 crore for three years. It had started the process in other districts.

Other decisions

Services of 33 doctors posted at health centres across the state were terminated for skipping work without permission from the authorities

The cabinet will give Rs 10 lakh to each panchayat in the next fiscal for construction of paved cement concrete (PCC) roads in villages

BPL families will be given two dhotis and saris each for Rs 10 a piece per annum

The National Insurance Company will be responsible for executing the insurance scheme for journalists, which was announced during Statehood Day celebrations.