GUWAHATI, June 9 - With an eye on addressing the twin issues of illegal sand/stone chips trade and shortage of construction materials, the State government is working on amending the minor mineral laws.
The government has formed a committee under PCCF SK Srivastava to revisit the Assam Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2013 and suggest changes. The committee has been asked to give its recommendations within 15 days, government sources told The Assam Tribune.
To deter illegal trade of minor minerals, sources said the new law would prescribe stringent penalties. Moreover, the existing law does not have any provision for setting up depot of sand and stone chips and the committee is likely to address the issue.
�This means, during the rainy season when you cannot extract sand, you cannot supply it to the public as you are not allowed to stock. But it has been seen that some mahaldars do tend to stock it illegally. The sand mahals are given to the mahaldars for a period of two to five years. During the monsoon season they cannot mine sand, but they are bound to pay the installments even if the mines are not in operation. There are flaws in the existing law,� sources said.
Some DFOs had allowed traders to stock sand and stone chips. But after the recent seizure of around 35,000 cubic metres of sand in Hailakandi and another such seizure of boulders along the Dima Hasao-Cachar border, most of the illegal depots � around 80 to 90 � were shut down, triggering a shortage of construction materials across the State.
Sources said the committee will also examine the possibility of incorporating provisions for quantity estimation of the minor minerals in the quarries. The volume of sand and stone in a quarry may be estimated by geological experts before it is leased out to a mahaldar. This will help fix the right price for the quarries.
The new law is also expected to promote lease instead of contract system.
�The amendments would be aimed at ensuring easy availability of challans, regulating the prices of materials in the market and provide a level playing field to both private players and the government,� the sources added.