In Madhya Pradesh: Rapid development of highways and the issue of illegal mining

Lalit Shastri

Madhya Pradesh Road sectorBhopal: Madhya Pradesh certainly has taken a big leap towards maintaining and upgrading State highways in recent years but the advantage of the transport sector, which is an important component of the economy and is crucial for development and all-round progress has been undermined by allegations of illegal mining against some companies that have bagged the contracts for building these roads.

A typical case in point relates to KCC Buildcon Pvt. Ltd. This company,incorporated with the Registrar of Companies (Delhi and Haryana) in 2009, claims to be one of the fastest emerging construction companies in India. The company has taken up projects across many different states, including Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal. Some of the major clients of this company are NHAI, MPRDC, WBHDCL, HSRDC, HSIIDC, DSIIDC, State PWDs, CPWD, GMADA, HUDA, and MES.

In Madhya Pradesh, KCC Buildcon’s projects include the development of Lateri-Tyonda (NH-86), and major district roads under Package ‘V’ for MPRDC at a contract value of Rs.156.83 Crore. Another MPRDC project undertaken by this company at a contract value of Rs. 116.03 crore is the widening and reconstruction of Pachor-Jirapur-Soyat Road.

A random check with regard to the status of illegal mining by Newsroom24x7 revealed that KCC Buildcon was allegedly involved in illegal mining of stone from the forest area for a road project in Dhar district. As a consequence two dumpers loaded with illegally mined stones and a poclain machine allegedly working for KCC Buildcon were seized by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department on March 8 this year and a case (forest crime no. 118/25, range case no. 10/15-16) was registered. Sources in Dhar district administration informed that the process has been initiated to confiscate the dumpers and the poclain machine involved in this case. At present KCC Buildcon is facing a serious charge but the company will have the option to go in appeal even after confiscation of its property.

In Ratlam district, one came across an abandoned stone quarry barely about 3 kilomtres from the notified area of Amba in the Sailana Kharmor (lesser florican) sanctuary. spot was being used to illegally quarry stone for a road project and the illegal extraction of stone was stopped following the intervention of the forest authorities.

mining menaceAn imposing hill visible from a long distance touching the Dewas by-pass road that connects the Mumbai-Agra road is also being exploited ruthlessly for last several years. The big question is whether or not the mining lease for this site allows the destruction of a hill on such a massive scale.

new land under agricultureThe Asian Development Bank has assisted MPRDC (the state Road Development Corporation) in preparing the project reports and also in terms of financial assistance for building and upgrading the State highways. To meet the safeguard requirement of ADB in projects involving the international lending agency, environmental assessment for the road projects is carried out under relevant laws, regulations and also keeping in focus ADB’s Environmental Assessment Guidelines.

While the landscape is being mutilated recklessly on the pretext of development, one also comes across in the state vast tracts of revenue and forest land continuously being encroached and brought under agriculture. This activity is possible only with the patronage of those in authority. This trend appears to be rampant. On close observation, it was apparent that those engaged in grabbing land were racing with time to bring the maximum area under agriculture before the onset of monsoon. This was starkly visible along the highways as one drove through a couple of districts in western Madhya Pradesh during this week.

 

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