Himachal relaxes norms for captive stone quarries

Shimla, Aug 18 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh government on Thursday decided to allow road and hydel project developers to set up captive stone quarries without seeking No objection Certificate (NoC) from Panchayats.

“As the process of allotting crushers consumes a lot of time and has to go through numerous procedural formalities including NoC from the environment angle, Panchayats, Forest Department clearances, and other line departments, the development activities, particularly construction of roads, comes to a halt which affects the budgeted works,” said an official statement.

The decision to waive the NoC from Panchayats was taken by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in a meeting to review mining activities that he had with Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri.

It was also decided to maintain live registers and for online registration of applicants who apply for setting up the crushers and to submit monthly report to the Chief Minister’s office.

Besides, directions have to be issued to all Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) to give report in a time bound manner and at the earliest concerning to setting up of stone crushers.

The decision will mainly benefit the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in undertaking road construction.

“Since the National Highway Authority of India is undertaking road projects worth over Rs 6,000 crore, it’s the duty of the state to assist them in setting up the crushers so that it does not delay the work,” the statement said, citing Chief Secretary V.C. Pharka.

Agnihotri favoured change in state’s mining policy for setting up quarries and simplification of the procedure.

He said as of now 150 legal stone crushers were operational in the state which were just 12 to 15 during the previous government regime, bringing development to halt then.

In another meeting pertaining to giving forest clearance to the development projects, Virbhadra Singh directed the forest department to adopt a pro-active approach.

He said 13 specific developmental activities could be carried out in forest area to the extent of one hectare.

He said the forest land could be diverted for the clearance of development projects up to one hectare and the Divisional Forest Officer concerned should be proactive so that development activities were not hampered.



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