Illegal mining has been a persistent problem in the state of Punjab, and the recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) sheds light on the failure of the Punjab government to effectively use technology and electronic surveillance to detect and control this issue. The report highlights that despite the requirement of using geotagging, geofencing, and electronic surveillance as per the Punjab State Sand and Gravel Mining Policy, 2018, and orders from the National Green Tribunal (NGT), there has been a lack of implementation.
The use of technology such as geotagging and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could significantly aid in monitoring and preventing illegal mining activities. However, a test check of records in three drainage divisions revealed that these measures were not being utilized effectively. This failure has allowed illegal sand mining to persist as a challenge for successive governments in Punjab.
Furthermore, the report also points out deficiencies in the mechanism for monitoring illegal mining at district/sub-division levels. According to the Punjab District Mineral Foundation Rules, 2018, each district was supposed to establish a District Mineral Foundation to work for the interests of those affected by mining operations. However, there have been shortcomings in forming teams at the district/sub-division level and submitting regular reports for monitoring and prevention of illegal mining.
The lack of effective measures to control illegal mining is concerning as it not only leads to environmental degradation but also causes economic losses for both government revenue and local communities affected by such activities.
It is imperative for authorities in Punjab to address these gaps in their approach towards curbing illegal mining. The use of advanced technology combined with robust monitoring mechanisms can help mitigate this issue effectively. The CAG’s report serves as an important reminder for policymakers to take proactive steps towards implementing stringent measures for controlling illegal mining.
A senior official from the mining department mentioned that they had received the review report recently and would examine its observations thoroughly. It is crucial for them to take prompt action based on these findings to ensure effective enforcement against illegal mining activities.
The comprehension, addressing illegal sand mining requires a multi-faceted approach involving technological solutions along with strong regulatory frameworks at both state and district levels. It is essential for all stakeholders involved – including government agencies, law enforcement authorities, local communities, and environmental organizations – to collaborate closely towards combating this pressing issue.
According to Hindustan Times.