Punjab, Haryana raise mining issue

In a strange coincidence, both Punjab and Haryana governments on Sunday in separate letters to the Centre complained that Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has not been giving nod to several mining projects leading to severe crisis in their respective states.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to personally intervene into the issue of pending mining projects in the state by saying the red flag raised by the MoEF on many such projects has led to "alarming scarcity of construction material" and it could lead to law and order problems.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Badal wrote that Punjab has been facing unavailability of construction materials — sand, gravel, bajri, bricks etc — which has adversely impacted the construction activity in the state. The Chief Minister reiterated that an Expert Appraisal Committee of MoEF be directed to consider the case for granting environmental clearance regarding 95 mining projects, which were submitted to the ministry in June this year.

Badal further requested the Prime Minister to advise the MoEF to empower the state authority for considering the environment clearance of the minor mineral projects irrespective of its area by amending the ministry's notification of September 14, 2006. Besides, he wrote, all mineral projects of area less than 5 hectares be considered in the B-2 category projects so that their environmental clearances could be obtained in minimum possible time schedule. Likewise, Badal also recommended exemption from obtaining environmental clearance for minor mineral projects of ordinary earth and brick earth etc wherein depth of mining does not exceed 6 feet.

This should be apart from the general condition of Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 which stated that any project or activity specified in category 'B' will be treated as category 'A' if located in whole or in part within the 10 km from the interstate and international boundaries be reduced to 1 km.

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