Thiruvananthapuram: After the Mining and Geology Department officials in the districts complained that there were ambiguities in the order on extending the permit and lease of quarries in the state, the government has issued a new order.
The order stated that the operating permit of all quarries, with mining permit from April 1, 2020, till the next 31st, has been extended till February 22, 2022. The minimum distance between quarries and residential areas will be 50mt itself.
As per the government order, this does not fall under the ambit of permit renewal and that it has to be construed as the extension of the period, the order stated. This need not be linked to an ongoing case in the High Court, seeking to make the minimum distance 200mt. The order also directed to levy the royalty and seigniorage fees, and extend the mining period.
The new order seemingly confirms the allegations that the permit and the lease were extended after coming under pressure from the mining mafia.
Taking into account the COVID-19 restrictions, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had issued a notification for extending the environmental clearance for quarries. Under the garb of this notification, the industries department issued an order on February 12 to extend the lease and permit of all quarries in the state, sparking a row.
The geologists, in charge of the districts, then sent a letter to the director seeking special guidelines for implementing the order, putting the government on the defensive.