ISRO assistance against illegal mining
Assistance of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and other remote sensing agencies have been sought to obtain satellite imagery on areas of mining in some States like Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, etc. The Minister of Mines and Development of North Eastern Region Shri BK Handique informed the parliament on this issue.
In a particular instance in Orissa, the Indian Bureau of Mines detected illegal mining in Keonjhar district using the satellite imagery and based on this, the State Government was able to initiate action against illegal miners. The Central Government has also advised the State Governments to use satellite imagery for detection of illegal mining as part of comprehensive strategy to curb illegal mining. The likely cost of satellite imagery is estimated at Rs. 50-60 lakhs per district.
The Minister said, State Governments as the owners of minerals grant mineral concessions. However, in case of First Schedule minerals, prior approval of Central Government is necessary before grant of mineral concession. A list of prior approvals given by the Central Government is available on website of Ministry of Mines (http://www.mines.gov.in) and so far it has not come to the notice of Central Government that companies involved in illegal mining operations have been given prior approval.
The Minister said, some instances of illegal mining of minerals have come to the notice of the Government in various parts of the country. The Central Government has amended the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, to empower the state Governments to take action against illegal mining by giving them powers to enter and inspect any mine, penalize transportation and storage of illegal mined materials.
It also allows them to confiscate illegally mined minerals, tools, equipment and vehicles, and frame separate Rules under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 for curbing illegal mining. This was followed by regular monitoring by Central Government of the action taken by the State Governments. Recently, all the State Governments have been requested to prepare an Action Plan using modern technology to curb illegal mining. Further, a Coordination-cum-Empowered Committee has been set up to ensure elimination of delays in grant of mineral concessions. A draft State Mineral Policy has also been circulated to all the State Governments.