The Department of mining of the state has infused the manual model of operation (which they were using before) with the new technologies. The state followed up the Central Empowered Committees initiative (Indian Railways- online raking system) and introduced 2011 guidelines on procedure for loading of ores from railway goods sheds etc. to prevent illegal mining & transportation of minerals in state. Recently the Andhra Pradesh government has launched Sand Policy, 2016 under which free supply of sand for construction purposes will be undertaken. The government has also formed various departments involving officials from various departments like Vigilance, Enforcement, Police, and Forest etc. The government has formed different forms of squads like the flying squads, patrolling squads, observation check posts at vulnerable locations etc. The department has trained officials for surprise raids and frisking of the materials, inspection of mining facility and pit assessment, enquiries into complaints and reports etc.
With this the government has installed several electronically configured portals for digital facilitation of mining auctions, grant of mining lease, lease details etc. so that every record can be feed and entered into the main database and can be checked upon digitally. Apart from that, the state has online receipt and processing of mineral concessions dispensing the manual receipt and processing, online generation of mineral transport permits, online filing of returns, Online services in the Department launched through Integrated Service Delivery Gateway i.e.,‘Meeseva’–a prestigious e-Governance Portal of the GoAP.
The technology used by the Maharashtra Government has been termed as: SMATS- Sand mining approval and tracking system. It has been developed by the Shaurya Technosoft Pvt. Ltd.
This system had been developed for monitoring exploration of valuable river sand resource for Government of Maharashtra. Presently this system had been implemented in entire Pune division (Pune, Satara, Solapur, Kolhapur and Sangali districts) and district of Ahmednagar, Latur, Chandrapur & Yavatmal. Sand Invoicing and Monitoring system had been specially desinged to insure and exact as per need one of the most valuable mining resource – river sand. This system will reduce illegal mining of river sand by considerable amount. This will lead to increase in revenue of government of Maharashtra.
The data for the five years between 2010 and 2015 from the Indian Bureau of Mines shows that Maharashtra reported almost 45-50% of the total illegal mining cases in the country. In this period, a total of 2.3 lakh vehicles involved in the illegal mining were seized, of which, 1.38 lakh vehicles were seized in Maharashtra alone. Maharashtra government recovered a penalty of Rs 183 crore from the illegal miners and transporters in the past five years, while the country reported a total penalty collection of Rs 1222 crore. Pune alone witnessed the reporting of around 249 illegal mining cases.
After going through available literature and reviewing the e-models developed by the state of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, following suggestions can be laid down in order to curb down the ongoing practice of illegal mining in different parts of India:
- Before issuing the transit passes or obtaining the book of transit passes the authority should make sure that the person applying for transit pass should have high security registration plates (HSRP), GPS installed in their vehicle. This should be made as a mandatory requirement for obtaining the transit pass. The installment of the HSRP avoids the problem of counterfeiting and duplicating the number plates.
- The government should frame a guideline for operating the loading of mining material, its transportation and their unloading at a destination.
- The Check Posts shall be made available with the entire important infrastructure like CCTV Cameras and wireless networking systems. There should be an electronic feeding of data received at the check posts. The officer-in-charge at the check post instead of issuing receipt for the seized shall issue an electronic receipt (Chalaan). This receipt shall be attached to the central server and the amount should be designated for the receipt. This way two things can be checked: first, the receipt cannot be issued more than the designated amount and if it is contravened, the central server will feed the data. Secondly, the officer-in-Charge cannot take bribe or indulge into any kind of corruption (like manipulating the issue of receipts) because of the electronic data of that check post being feed. So this creates a cross-checking mechanism.
- The Departments and Squads shall indulge into inspection of mineral processing units, stone crusher sites, checking transportation at vulnerable locations, surprise raids and confiscations. In order to check the transportation at vulnerable locations two things shall be done: first, identification of these locations on local or regional map shall be done and a route from the source location to the destination shall be electronically pre-configured. If it is contravened the GPS routing system comes into play. This will alert the authorities and the driver of the vehicle cannot bypass it.
- At Panchayat level or village level power should be delegated to the people like Sarpanch, MDO and even to communities so that they can at least inform the authorities about the movement of minerals. This can be done with the help of other statutes too like the PESA and Forest Rights Act.
- Almost in every illegal mining case, people from political background are found having direct or indirect links to such unauthorized establishments which in turn uses full muscle and money power to continue their illegal business. To overcome such a situation, the rule against such people in terms of cancelling their tickets or not allowing them to contest the election shall be made. It can be controversial but seeing the major rise in the political power influencing the illegal mining area it is a much needed step.
- Public servants indulging into corruption shall be booked under Prevention of Corruption Act, and reviewing of the Lokayukta Act shall be done with respect to powers of Lokayukta and other matters.