Rajasthan government to begin e-auction to mine pink sandstone
(Sourced from PTI)
The Rajasthan government will soon begin e-auction of a pink sandstone variety, much sought after by builders including those constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya, found in the Bansi Paharpur area of Bharatpur. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday said the sandstone was being sent for temple construction after illegal mining so the state government made efforts to get stone mining a legal status.
A state government official said putting the mining blocks on auction became possible after the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment gave in-principle approval for converting 398 hectares of Bandh Baretha Wildlife Sanctuary land for mining sandstone.
About 70 mining blocks will be developed in the area soon for mining of the pink sandstone which is expected to generate a revenue of Rs. 500 crore for the state government, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Mines and Petroleum Subodh Agrawal said. It would enable legal mining and sandstone would be made available for the Ram temple in Ayodhya through legal channels, he said.
Mining was officially banned in the area in 2016 but illegal operations continued and the Bansi Paharpur's pink sandstone was available in the grey market. The special pink sandstone is much sought after by builders, including those constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The Dholpur variant of the stone is said to be no match to the Bansi Paharpur stone.
"With the commencement of legal mining activities in this area, thousands will get direct and indirect employment," the ACS said. At the state level, the proposal to allow the mining special sandstone was cleared by a standing committee of the Rajasthan Wildlife Board in February.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Gehlot raised questions over financial manipulation in temple construction work. "Devotees across the country are deeply hurt by the immoral activities of financial manipulation done by the trust formed for the construction of the temple. No one could have imagined that even in a holy work like temple construction, people would start committing scams," Gehlot tweeted in Hindi.
He said the people of Rajasthan have contributed with full faith for the construction of the Ram temple, but the news of embezzlement of donations given for the construction work has shaken the faith of the common man. The chief minister sought a probe in the matter so that people do not lose their faith.