Saturday, May 31, 2008

Drive against illegal miners bears fruit


Drive against illegal miners bears fruit

Indian Express By Sibte Husain Bukhari

Junagadh, May 30 Illegal mining activities have come to a halt in Junagadh district, particularly near the Gir forest, following the intensive drive jointly carried out by the district administration and the Mine and Mineral department.

Following reports of large scale illegal mining activities in Junagadh district, particularly on the costal belt and in some pockets near Gir forest, the Junagadh district collector Ashwini Kumar had formed a two-member committee comprising the sub-divisional magistrate and the deputy SP -- to monitor and curb cases of illegal mining.

According to sources, some NGOs involved with protecting forests and the wildlife had written to the district collector and authorities concerned about the illegal mining activities being carried out in the 5-km radius of the forest border.

When contacted, district collector Ashwini Kumar, said, "Strict action has been taken against those involved in illegal mining activities, and according to our departmental report, there are no mines near the Gir forest now."

"Apart from the area near Gir, we are taking strict action against illegal mine operators. Machinery worth lakhs of rupees has been seized and police action has been initiated. Though illegal mine operators try to outsmart us by using movable machinery, we have carried out instant raids on receiving reports of any such activity. Recently on May 19, a total of 77 cutter machines were seized from a village in Mangarol taluka on the costal belt," said Kumar

When contacted, Revatubha Raizada, the office bearers of the Sky Forest Youth Club in Keshod town said, "Earlier, some illegal mines were operational near Jamwala village located on the periphery of Gir forest. However, now there are no reports of any illegal mining in the area."

According to an activist, illegal mine operators are mainly concentrated on the costal belt areas particularly in Una, Kodinar and Mangarol taluka. How ever, their activities were restricted once the district administration carried out intensive drives.

"Last week the district administration held a meeting with industrialists on this issue. It was clearly spelt out that those involved in illegal mining would not be spared and if deemed necessary, they would be arrested under PASA (Prevention of Anti Social Activities)," said the district collector.

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