BENGALURU: Karnataka Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh R Nirani on Monday announced a decision to resume operations of stalled stone mining and crusher units across the state.
The Mines and Geology department issued a circular in this regard on Monday.
Post two tragic blasts that occurred in Hunasodu quarry in Shivamogga district and another blast in a quarry in Chikkaballapur district that killed six each in a gap of month, Karnataka, had not only tightened its vigil but also ordered suspension of quarrying operations across the state. Since the closure, it is estimated that the state exchequer had incurred a loss of revenue of more than Rs 300 crore.
Nirani told reporters that the owners of quarries and stone crushers will have to give an undertaking to the authorities stating they would abide by the rules and regulations and would submit NoC (No-Objection Certificate) from Centre’s Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) to use explosives within 90 days.
The minister who has been taking over all stock of the situation since the closure, said the closure of stone quarries and crusher units resulted in revenue loss.
“Almost all stone quarries and crusher units stopped operating following tragic incidents in Shivamogga and Chikkaballapur districts. State exchequer has incurred a loss of more than Rs 300 crore due to closure. Resumption of stone mining will not only garner revenue but also improve employment prospects,” the minister explained.
Expressing concerns over job loss and adverse impact on construction, he observed that construction activities affected the state as the government laid more emphasis on safety measures following two tragic incidents.
“Owners had started laying off large number of workers as they are unable to maintain the stalled units. The prices of raw materials have steadily skyrocketed in the market due to closure of stone quarries and crusher units. Public in herneral finding it difficult to purchase these materials,” he said.
There are over 2,500 stone quarries and stone crushing units in the state and less than 10 per cent of these have NoC from DGMS. “For use of explosives of less than two kgs and less than five acres, DGMS certificate is not needed,” he said.
The owners and associations involved in this business had recently met Murugesh Nirani and requested him to allow resumption of mining activities.
Batting in favour of quarry owners, Nirani observed that it was impossible to operate stone quarries and crusher units without using explosives. “Though it is mandatory to obtain permits from the DGMS, the owners are finding it very difficult to purchase, store, and operate explosives due to tough conditions. The Mines and Geology department has decided to ease the process by changing the present guidelines and obtaining undertaking for resuming operations,” he explained.
Nirani said that stone mining activities ought to continue as owners who have invested huge money by availing loans in the banks are now facing hardship to repay the loans due to closure of industry in the past few months, which would result in turning as NPAs.
The minister further added that the government has been taking steps for optimum use of the district mineral fund.
“We have devised several action plans for optimum usage of district mineral fund (DMF) for developmental works in the mining districts. Programmes formulated to address drinking water problem, health, environment protection, education, skill development, welfare of women, child, aged and differently-abled persons, basic infrastructure, irrigation, conservation of power and water,” he said.