GUWAHATI, Oct 21 - With the advent of the working season, Dispur has put on fast track twin strategies to meet the shortage of stone and sand that had been plaguing the State�s construction sector for the last couple of years.
The government has come up with certain provisions for the mahaldars to extract an additional quantity of minerals from the 176 quarries (of the total 380) which are in operation in the State. Some of these mahals were leased out for up to seven years. Among the nonfunctional ones, some fall in eco-sensitive zones, some are entangled in court cases and others could not be sold.
Sources said when these mahals were settled, the allotment was in many cases less than 20 per cent of the reserves in the area. �Earlier, it was difficult to lease out the mahals. If you increase the quantity of reserve, the earnest money and other rates become high and there are no takers then. Again, once a mahal is leased out, the mining plan cannot be changed,� an official said.
Now, the government has certain provisions in the rules to unlock the existing reserves. The mahaldar will now be able to extract an additional quantity of minerals. �Only 5 to 20 per cent of the total strength of the mahals was allotted as per the settlements made earlier. Now, the additional quantity will be allotted at the same settled rate to the willing mahaldars,� said the official.
The new provisions could increase the supply from the mahals by 50 per cent. According to an estimate, there are 31 lakh cubic metres of additional reserves of stone and sand which could be yearly available from the mahals.
Currently, the State requires around 90 lakh cubic metres of stone and sand annually, and the existing mahals are able to supply only around 40 per cent of it.
Also, the Forest Department is planning to lease out 34 new stone mahals through e-auction. The e-tendering is expected to commence this month and the process is likely to be settled in around two-three months time.