Rajasthan to de-notify forest area to allow stone mining

The Rajasthan government will soon denotify a forest area in Banshi Pahadpur hills in Bharatpur after an initial survey found there were no animals or forests in the area, a district official said on Thursday.

Pink sandstone mined from the hills is being supplied to Ayodhya for the construction of the Ram temple.

Bharatpur district collector, Nathmal Didel, said the mining, forest and revenue departments have surveyed the hills of Banshi Pahadpur and found no wild animals or forests. This would help for denotification of the Banshi Pahadpur block, he said.

“After the initial survey, a report will be sent to the chief wildlife warden of the forest department” seeking denotification to allow legal mining, he said.

A mining department official, privy to the development, said that the Bharatpur mining engineer would apply for permission to denotify and allow mining in the hills through the forest department’s portal.

A proposal would then be sent to the environment ministry seeking approval to denotify the area under the Forest Conservation Act, the official said.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which has been sourcing stones from the Banshi Pahadpur hills for the construction of the Ram Temple for the past five years, had approached the Bharatpur district administration over a delay in supply of stones in September-October.

The district administration had then said that the stones were being illegally mined after three trucks, loaded with the pink sandstones, were seized on September 27 in a joint operation of the police, forest and revenue departments.

“The pink and yellow sandstone is in high demand. Illegal mining activity in the area feeds processing units in the district. The district administration takes action against illegal mining randomly,” Didel said.

According to the state mines department officials, until December 1996, around 42 legal mines of pink, red and yellow sandstone operated in the Banshi Pahadpur forest area.

However, the Supreme Court prohibited non-forest activities in forest areas without diversion under the Forest Act through its order dated December 12, 1996

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