The West Bengal government is contemplating an amendment to the West Bengal Minor Minerals Act-2002 act to strengthen laws to stop illegal sand mining and the mafia activities in the state, Irrigation minister Rajib Banerjee said in Kolata on Wednesday.
Stating that a proposal has been placed before Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the minister said "In the present act there is no provision of strong action like heavy fines, imprisonment for both against illegal sand mining and malpractices by sand mafia."
He said that an amendment to the present Act would be brought possibly in the next session of the Assembly to strengthen its penal provisions and arrest malpractices.
Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra would finalise details about the amendment through discussions with the concerned departments, he said.
"Durga Shakti Nagpal, an officer IAS in Uttar Pradesh, took up a drive against illegal sand mining and was suspended, but in West Bengal the state government is committed to a drive against illegal sand mining to preserve nature and environment," Banerjee said.
"Since there is no revenue against sand mining, the state government is deprived of its right to collect adequate royalty from this source," the minister said.
He said that the state government wanted to impose tax and security deposit for sand mining to recover royalty for maintenance of roads and bridges damaged by carriage of sand.
Steps have already been taken against illegal sand mining with a ban at 30 places in Hooghly, Howrah, Burdwan, Birbhum and West Midnapore districts while 248 other such places have identified in the state, the minister said.
A NOC from the irrigation department would also be required for sand mining, Banerjee said. Letters have been issued to all district magistrates and superintendents of police directing them to take appropriate steps, Banerjee said.