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PATNA: Mining department minister Janak Ram on Friday said the state government would invite open tender for the authorised sand ghats after completion of the district survey report (DSR) in the wake of the Supreme Court’s directive recently.

Talking to this newspaper, the minister said the DSR has to be prepared within six months. “Open tender will be invited after the process is complete. The companies at the national level may take part in the bidding process for legal sand mining in Bihar,” he said.

He said the open bidding would generate more revenue to the state. “The department is going to hold a meeting soon to discuss the modalities for preparing the district survey report,” the minister said, adding that sand mining was stalled in October following the intervention of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The mining department had started the process of auction of authorised sand ghats in eight districts from October 1, but it was stopped on the order of the NGT, causing huge loss to the state exchequer. The state government then moved the Supreme Court against the NGT’s order.

The NGT had directed the state government to undertake further exercise for preparation of a fresh DSR for Banka. This led to stalling the process of auction of the sand ghats in other districts as well.

The NGT, in its order issued on October 14, 2020, had said the DSR must be prepared through consultants accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Education and Training/Quality Control Council of India.

The Supreme Court, however, observed that a total ban on legal mining, apart from giving rise to illegal mining activities, also caused huge losses to the public exchequer. Besides, illegal mining resulted in clashes between sand mafias, criminalisation and, at times, loss of human lives.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao observed, “A balanced approach of sustainable development ensuring environmental safeguards needs to be resorted to while dealing with the issue of sand mining.”

The court, in the meantime, allowed the state government to carry on mining activities through the Bihar State Mining Corporation (BSMC).

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