Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today raised the issues of environmental clearance for extraction of minor mineral particularly the sand mining from river beds with Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests in a meeting held at New Delhi.
Chief Minister apprised the Union Minister that due to various constraints and strict instructions of Ministry of Environment and Forests, the people of Himachal Pradesh were facing problems due to shortage of sand etc. He said that there was a need to relax the norms particularly for granting the permission for extraction of minor sand mining projects from any river bed/water body upto the area of 5 hectare. The Ministry in the National Green Tribunal has stated that no environmental clearance would be granted for extraction of even minor minerals (sand mining) from any river bed where the area was less than 5 hectares which had adverse repercussions on the development activities in the State, he added.
Expressing his concern on environment change and the commitment of people of Himachal Pradesh in maintaining the balance in development and environment, Chief Minister said that this hill state had become a symbol of harmony of nature and development and also a role model of development for all the hill states of the Country. He also raised the issue of urgently formation of Environment and Assessment Committee with the Union Minister, which has lapsed in March, 2014.
Chief Minister categorically raised the issue of delegation of powers to State Govt. for diversion of forest land upto 5 hectare instead of 1 hectare for non- forestry purposes for certain specific activities. He said that it was very important to grant such permission with a view to intensify the pace of development and also requested that roads and all educational institutions should also be included in the ambit of such approval.
The Chief Minister thanked the Environment Minister for releasing Rs. 86 crore under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) and requested for releasing the rest of amount pending with the Centre.
Mukesh Agnihotri, Industry, Information and Public Relations Minister accompanied the Chief Minister, informed in Union Minister that due to tough topographical condition and small land holdings in the State, people were facing challenges to fulfill their developmental needs and apprised that about 150 cases of crushers and other mining operations were pending with the Centre Govt.
The Union Minister assured the Chief Minister that the interests of the State would be taken care of keeping in view the developmental needs of people of hill state and also said that possibility of waiving of environmental clearance for projects upto 5 hectare on the lines of Uttrakhand State would be explored. He also assured that the Ministry was in the process of evolving the mechanism to clear the minor projects of developmental importance within a stipulated period.