Environment Ministry launches web portal for faster sand mining clearances

The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change has created a new web portal for for online submission and monitoring of environmental approvals for mining of sand and minor minerals. This was revealed by the Mr. Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State for MoEF&CC (IC), during a workshop on sand mining and minor minerals.

The Minister claimed that this web portal will lead to the empowerment of the project proponent, as it not only enhances transparency of the entire application process, but also enables the proponents to track their applications online. Terming it a revolutionary measure, the Minister said that the web portal is a district-level, web-based and role-based workflow application for online submission and monitoring of proposals for Category B’2’projects.

The web-based application automates the entire tracking of proposals, which includes online submissions of a new proposal, editing/updating the details of proposals at each stage of the workflow. Some of the features of the application include– submission of all projects in a single window interface; facilitate management in effective monitoring; delays in the clearance process can be ascertained; a unique ID for each proposal for future reference; On-the-fly generation of all required reports; automatic mailer notification to take instance action; accessible from any PC having internet facility and different types of privileges/roles for users as per their responsibilities.

Among the objectives of the portal are - enhancing efficiency, transparency and accountability in the environment clearance process; reduction in turnaround time for activity; enhance responsiveness through workflows automation and availability of real-time information; enhance ease and convenience of citizens and businesses in accessing information and services; achieve standardisation in processes across the states; online real-time monitoring and adherence to timelines for verification; stage-wise approval and compliance mechanism and a more user-friendly application process.

This web portal appears to be aimed at helping the project proponents ie. businesses to help in getting their requirement of sand and minor minerals. It may be pertinent to mention that the MoEF&CC as well as the various State Governments have completely failed to stop illegal sand mining all over the country. Many rivers have died due to sand mining. Instead of focusing on stopping the sand mining, the MoEF&CC appears to be more concerned to satisfy the industry.

The minister claimed that use of satellite mapping to identify sand mining spots and bar-coded receipts will curb illegal mining. This is farthest from the truth. Illegal sand mining has resulted in many brave officers being killed by the sand mining mafia who are hand in glove with the ruling politicians and police. IAS officers in the past have been suspended for stopping illegal sand mining. When there is a basic Governance problem and lack of will to stop illegal mining, creating web portals to further allow business houses will not stop illegal sand mining.