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Nagaland minor minerals yet to be fully explored: Report
Bhadra Gogoi
 DIMAPUR, Jan 4 - Nagaland’s huge minor mineral resources that include sand, gravel, boulder, sandstone, limestone, marble, granite, clay, building and dimension stones, etc., are yet to be fully explored and assessed for commercial use, the State’s Geology and Mining department said in its annual administrative report for the year 2017-18.

The report says the overall minor resources such as sandstones, marbles, granites and slates in the State have been assessed to be about 317 million metric tonnes.

Owing to poor structure and mechanism to regulate small-scale mining in the State, the State Government framed Nagaland Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2004 under Section 17 of the Nagaland (Ownership Transfer of Land & its Resources) Act 1990, outlining the mechanism for granting of lease for various minor minerals and issues related to it.

But the regulatory framework guiding mining of mineral could not be operationalised due to systematic malfunctioning of governance mechanism, the report stated.

“As a result of which, the State is facing serious irregularities which includes confusing regulatory provisions, inadequate monitoring and enforcement, which in turn is causing huge revenue loss to the State exchequer,” the report says.

It said the State Government after realising the adverse impact of rampant and illegal sand and boulder mining in Chathe and Dhansiri river of Dimapur district decided to operationalise the Nagaland Minor Mineral Concession 2004 in 2017.

Accordingly, the Geology and Mining department was authorised to issue license and permits and levy taxes and royalty on minor minerals.

Despite this, the Environment, Forest and Climate Change department was also collecting royalty from minor minerals in the State. The public as well as sand and boulder unions raised issue not to levy double taxations on the same mineral by two departments, the report said.

Following the objection, a joint meeting of Geology and Mining and Forest departments under the chairmanship of the then Chief Minister TR Zeliang on October 28, 2017 authorised the Geology and Mining department to implement the Nagaland Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2004.

Accordingly, the department started implementing the said rules by issuing quarry permits/licenses and levy royalty on minor minerals from November 2017. The department so far has issued seven stone quarry permits and 15 brick quarry permits to individuals and parties.

The report said the minor minerals were handed over to Geology and Mining department in the last part of fiscal 2017. However, the department did not have any fund to implement the rules. The department set up five mineral check gates in Dimapur for collection of royalty despite fund constraints.

If proper infrastructure such as construction of offices, setting up of mineral check gates in district levels are created along with sufficient manpower then the department can generate revenue to the tune of Rs 5 to Rs 10 crore per year from minor mineral sector, the report added.

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