KATHMANDU, Aug 10: The Ministry of Industry (MoI) has prepared a draft to set criteria for excavating sand and aggregates in various parts of the country with a view to end series of controversies about sand mining and excavation of construction materials.
The ministry prepared the draft a month after the deadline set by the government for the task.
The draft is aimed at resolving the controversies as the ministry was widely criticized for allowing sand miners to excavate sand and aggregates without any monitoring and criteria.
“As we have already been late in preparing this draft as asked by the government for the long-term solution of excavation, we now want to get this draft approved by the cabinet meeting. So, we will submit it to a meeting of the council of ministers very soon,” Yam Kumari Khatiwada, spokesperson at the ministry, told Republica.
She said that the ministry is not sure whether or not it will get the approval from the cabinet. “But we did our best to set better criteria on excavating construction materials,” she said.
The uncontrolled excavations drew criticism from various sectors as increasing trend of excavation in river banks and other areas caused environmental degradation and risked several roads, bridges and other infrastructures.
Few years back, the Ministry of Environment had ordered the concerned authorities to conduct Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) before excavating such materials from any place.
According to Khatiwada, the Department of Mines and Geology (DMG) has already identified 92 spots for excavating sand and aggregates. But no agency has even conducted EIA of those areas for the purpose.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council Ministers (OPMCM) on Tuesday asked the MoI to finalize the draft without any further delay.
“We have already spent a month without any new criteria. So we have pressed the ministry to submit the criteria as soon as possible,” said Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, secretary at the OPMCM. “This will help the industries to find government-identified excavation spots as per the set criteria and there will be no controversies over excavation.”
In lack of a clear policy on the matter, the government had earlier issued a notice to those involved in excavation to continue their work as per the past practices until the end of the last fiscal year.