Ministry in favour of extending deadline for crusher industries

  • checking unregulated mining of natural resources
- PRAGATI SHAHI, Kathmandu
Ministry in favour of extending deadline for crusher industries

Dec 31, 2014-

The Industry Ministry has stood strongly in favour of extending the deadline for crusher industries for the implementation of the mandatory standards that tries to bring these industries under a regulatory framework.

The existing deadline set for the implementation of mandatory standards on crusher industries to control the unregulated and rampant mining of natural resources is expiring in the next two weeks.  

Minister for Industry Mahesh Basnet on Wednesday said that the deadline must be extended, citing lack of preparation for infrastructures including road and electricity to operate the crusher industries that will be relocated in newly identified 95 mining sites in 14 different places in the country.

“As the period until mid-July is the time when development activities speed up, we cannot allow the crusher related problem to disturb development works when poor spending has been a big problem in carrying out development works in the recent years,” he said.

As per the Cabinet’s decision, the government was supposed to determine quarries in 14 different places across the country where the crusher operates, a move that would allow the latter to operate after meeting the new mandatory standards before the mid-January deadline.

However, with less than three weeks remaining until the deadline to shift the crushers expires, the statement from the minister is set to extend the much-needed support for the operation of crusher industries that follow regulatory standards.  

The Cabinet decision also stated that after the mid-January deadline expires, only those crusher operators fulfilling the mandatory standards would be allowed to run their business and those failing to comply with the regulatory framework would have to cease operation. Currently, there are around 700 crusher industries operating in the country, of which majority are engaged in haphazard extraction of natural resources adversely affecting the local environment.

According to Reshmi Raj Pandey, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, though the quarry sites have been identified in 14 different places, the concerned authority would be able to conduct Initial Environmental Examination, the first phase environment study and prerequisite for development activities, within the mid-January deadline.

In an effort to control the proliferation of unregulated and rampant mining inside the country, the concerned ministries including Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation have time and again decided to put a complete ban on extraction, use and export of natural resources such as boulders, stones, sand and aggregates. However, bowing to the increasing pressure from the crusher entrepreneurs’ and politicians, the authorities have not been able to fully implement the decision to ban such extraction.

In July last year, the government had formulated new standards where the crusher industries were required to be placed 500 meters away from highways, 500 meters away from riverside, at a distance of 100 meters from high-tension electricity grid and 2 km away from schools and colleges, health centres and hospitals, security installations, forests, national parks, human settlement and religious and archaeological sites.  The standards were expected to come in force by mid-July this year, but due to pressure from all quarters including the crusher entrepreneurs, the government instead extended the deadline to allow the crusher industries to operate within the country but banned export to India until mid-January next year.

However, Umesh Sherchan, president of the Federation of Nepalese Crusher and Mines Entrepreneurs’ Association claimed that not a single crusher industry would survive if they are to comply with the standards as they were “extremely unrealistic”.

 

Published: 01-01-2015 09:03

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