New Delhi | Jul 03 2013 :
In a move that is expected to help ease the supply of brick earth and ordinary earth, the environment ministry (MoEF) has relaxed its stringent 2012 norms on mining of minor minerals by exempting these two from the mandatory environmental clearance.
The MoEF has said "the activities of borrowing/excavation of brick earth and ordinary earth, up to an area less than 5 hectares may be categorised under B2 category" — a category that does not require prior environmental clearance under the Environment Impact Assessment notification of 2006.
The decision follows the recommendation of an expert committee headed by the director of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
In February 2012, the Supreme Court had imposed a blanket ban on mining minor minerals without the mandatory environmental clearance. Used extensively in construction, brick earth has become expensive and scarce due to the tough clearances. The Punjab and Haryana governments had strongly taken up the issue with the Centre saying the rules were forcing thousands of mining quarries to close and raising construction costs. The MoEF had also received representations from brick manufacturers and road developers.
"In a nutshell, the arguments being put forth are that while digging of brick earth for brick-making and ordinary earth for road-making do not have serious environmental implications, the provisioning for environmental clearance for such operations is impeding these development activities because of practical problems in obtaining clearance," the MoEF said.