Govt allows use of JCB machines for mining

Kulwinder Sandhu

Tribune News Service

Moga, June 22

More than two months after Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh banned the use of heavy machinery for mining on riverbeds, the state government has now allowed the use of JCB and poclain machines for sand and gravel excavation.

The Mining Department has asked contractors to furnish fresh applications by submitting Rs 5,000 so that they can be given environmental clearance certificates, enabling them to use heavy machinery.

At least, 50 such contracts have been revised by the department through district magistrates across the state, sources in the department said.

Earlier, the environmental clearance certificates, issued under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and Punjab State Mining and Minerals Rules- 2013, did not allow the use of heavy machinery like JCB and poclain machines for the excavation of sand/gravel from sites that were less than 62.5 hectares.

In the letter (a copy of which is with The Tribune) issued by the District Magistrate of Moga, Dilraj Singh Sandhawalia, who is also the chairman of the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority, a nod has been given to the son of a Pathankot businessman to the use of machinery at Chak Bhaura on the Sutlej riverbed in the district.

But the letter does not mention the type of machinery to be used. A perusal of the documents of new environmental clearance certificates issued by the state geologist reveals that only one machine (JCB or poclain) having the bucket carrying capacity of 0.50 cubic metres to 0.90 cubic metres can be used at a mining site (quarry).

Geologist Shashminder Singh refused to say anything on the issue. There were reports that contractors were using three to five JCB and poclain machines to extract sand from the riverbeds in Moga and Ferozepur districts. Since the mining operations are likely to shut down from July 1 to September 30 due to the monsoon season, the contractors have gone into an overdrive, it seems.

A Cabinet sub-committee comprising Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal and Rural Development & Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa was constituted by the Chief Minister to draft a new mining policy, but due to difference of opinion, it could not be finalised, a senior functionary in the Chief Minister’s Office said.

Old norm

Earlier, the environmental clearance certificates, issued under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and Punjab State Mining and Minerals Rules- 2013, did not allow the use of heavy machinery like JCB and poclain machines for the excavation of sand/gravel from sites that were less than 62.5 hectares.

News Courtesy : TOI,Tribune