The Newz Radar
MANDI: Ajay Rana, Himachal BJP spokesman and president of the state crusher welfare association, has termed the Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu government’s decision to shut down all stone crushers on both perennial and non-perennial rivulets in the Beas basin in Kullu, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra districts as “politically motivated”.
Urging the government to review its decision, Rana said the Mining Department had ordered the closure of 129 stone crushers in the state, a majority in Kangra district.
Talking to TNR, Rana alleged that closing down of stone crushers in the wake of flashfloods was a dictatorial step taken without taking into consideration the technical, scientific and geographical aspects from the ground.
He asserted that the crusher units came into operation only after taking clearances under the Forest Conservation Act (FCA) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). “The units have to adhere to strict norms laid down by the Supreme Court, National Green Tribunal and various committees formed under their supervision and guidance, who lay down several guidelines and directions from time to time other than following the directions from government,” he said.
Rana stressed that stone crusher units had been using raw material from legal mining sites through a scientific manner as per the EIA clearances other than muck, debris, boulders and stones taken out of the construction of roads and buildings.
He affirmed that not even a single stone has been taken out from Beas and its tributaries by any stone crusher for its unit after 2003 when the FCA was assumed to also include old areas of Himachal under its ambit.
Hitting out at the Chief Minister, the BJP leader questioned that the government should come out with documentary evidence that on whose recommendation it had been decided that stone crushers led to the natural calamity in the state. “If not by feeling of revenge, then which agency prepared the report on whose basis such an illogical step has been taken? The government should submit a report of any responsible body, including pollution, environment, judicial or similar stating that stone crushers were responsible for the natural calamity,” he claimed.
Rana asked the government to come with facts whether it were stone crushers that led to calamities in Shimla, Mandi town, Sarkaghat, Sunni and other parts where houses came crumbling down like a pack of cards. He said the crushers from Mandi and Kullu alone contributed over Rs 100 crore annually to the state exchequer through various taxes and duties.
Mandi District Mining Officer Bindiya Rani said a committee would be formed to look into the issue after the Vidhan Sabha session. The committee would file a report within two months, on the basis of which the government would decide the protocol for restarting the crushers.