MoEF relaxes rules for brick earth mining

Stringent environmental clearance rules for mining of minor minerals are set to be relaxed for mining projects involving 'brick earth' and 'ordinary earth'. Used extensively in construction activities, brick earth has, of late, become expensive and scarce owing to tough environmental clearance conditions. It is now learnt that the Environment Ministry is set to waive off the requirement of mandatory Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for brick-earth mining projects with a lease area of less than five hectares.

The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has also decided that for brick earth and ordinary earth mining projects operating in a lease area up to 3 hectares, environmental clearance may be granted at the district level itself by the District Magistrate/District Forest Officer.

It is learnt that the MoEF will soon issue a fresh order in continuation of its order dated May 18, 2012 on the issue of mining of minor minerals to enable the relaxations for the brick earth mining industry. The revised order will categorise brick earth mining projects in area less than five hectares as B2 those that do not require EIA, highly placed sources said. The Law Ministry is learnt to have cleared the new notification.

Sources told The Indian Express that the issue was also taken up in a recent meeting at the Prime Minister's Office following representations from state governments.

The conditions for granting of environmental clearance to brick earth mining projects will take into account that mining activity is restricted to above ground water level; no natural watercourse/water resource is obstructed due to mining; ambient air quality parameters are maintained; trees are not felled and vehicular emissions are under control and regularly monitored. Also it must be ensured that there is no blasting involved in the mining activity and there is minimal loss to agricultural crops which is adequately compensated.

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