In the past one year, 639 cases pertaining to illegal mining of different minerals have been reported in different districts of Rajasthan, data from the state’s mining department has revealed.
Between January 1 2020 and January 31, 2021, the highest — 86 cases — were reported from Bhilwara district followed by Jodhpur and Nagaur with 58 and 49 cases respectively, reveals the data furnished by the mining department in response to a question at the Assembly.
In January this year, Rajasthan had launched the state’s M-sand policy to govern the manufacturing of sand using mining waste. The policy was described as a ‘game changer’ by the government and was introduced with the purpose of increasing the supply of legal sand in the state.
However, in recent times, illegal mining of sand has come up as one of the biggest challenges faced by the Rajasthan government, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot himself acknowledging the problem on several occasions.
According to the data, in the past three financial years (2018-19, 2019-20 and up to January 31 this year), the mines department has registered 38,335 cases and collected Rs 252.85 crore as fine.
In 3,375 of these cases, FIRs have been registered by the police, reveals the data.
The Supreme Court had on November 16, 2017, restrained all the 82 sand mining leases in Rajasthan from carrying out mining activities for lack of environmental clearance and scientific replenishment studies.
Since that order, illegal sand mining has resulted in human casualties, law and order incidents and increasing accusations of collusion between government officials and illegal miners.
A central empowered committee of the Supreme Court recently had said in its report that the state tacitly participated in ‘the free-for-all loot of this valuable natural resource’.