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Confusion over sand-mining norms in Kerala sparks concern
A notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change prescribing regulations on river sand mining is feared to result in a mismatch with the Kerala State legislation on the issue.
What does the central notification mandates?
District Environment Impact Assessment Authority empowered to issue environmental clearance for sand mining below five hectares.
It prescribes guidelines for the preparation of a district survey report to identify river sand resources, protection of the riverine ecology and steps to check illegal mining.
It mandates to establish District expert appraisal committee to screen projects .
Must have no representatives of local bodies.
Submission of district survey report every 5 years once.
Use of technology aided system for monitoring illegal mining.
What does the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Act, 2001 mandates?
District-level expert committees chaired by the respective District Collectors have been constituted to check illegal mining.
The State government had imposed a total ban on sand mining from six rivers and imposed restrictions on mining from five rivers for a three-year period.
It has local representatives .
Submission of the sand audit report for every 5 years.
River management fund for management of river bank.
Penalty of up to two years imprisonment with fine .
Extraction of ordinary sand, removal of sand deposits from farms and silt from dams and reservoirs are the activities that have been exempted.
Experts and environmental activists fear:
This confusion would create a situation for illegal mining to flourish in the State.
It is neither necessary nor desirable to have a district expert committee set up under the State Act and a District EIA Authority mandated by the Central notification, both chaired by the District Collector. It will only lead to confusion and conflict.
Exemptions cited in the notification would be manipulated to bypass the requirement of environment clearance for river sand mining.