Since June 2012, it is mandatory for miners to get their mining plan (MP) and simplified mining scheme (SMS) approved. However, scrutiny of records disclosed that out of 9,515 lesseesquarry licenses 4,195 have not submitted their MPs and SMSs.
Further investigation revealed that out of 5,320 licensees that have submitted their plans, only 3,807 were approved making the remaining activities illegal. Mining data recorded by the CAG report is from April 2012 to March 2014.
Loss to the exchequer is difficult to quantify since the data is from just nine offices but according to the rules, illegal miners have to pay 10 times of the royalty as penalty. In absence of MP and SMS, the mineral-rich state is not just losing revenue but also minerals.
Another flaw noticed by CAG is failure of government in collecting environment management fund (EMF) from the lessees. Amount collected under EMF is utilized on the environmental works according to the provisional rules. However, no system to recover the amount has been put in place.
“Audit of records of 10 offices disclosed that EMF amounting to Rs 6.53 crore was not collected from 289 lessees permit holders and contractors,” stated the report.
Another example of government’s lackluster approach in curbing illegal mining is procedure of investigations. According to CAG, illegal mining continued at Moha Pahar in Sikar due to lackadaisical approach of the department. “Four committees were formed one after another that gave no positive results,” said the report.
Provisions of inquiry are such that if a committee finds any fault the license holder moves to higher appellate authority thus opening a window for formation of another committee, say CAG officials.
In the Moha Pahar case, state’s inaction led to extraction of 80.34 lakh metric tonne of masonry stone, which has a market value of Rs 149 crore.
Moreover, no attempts were made for cancellation of leases or for recovery of cost of minerals excavated from forest areas which were outside the leased areas.