In Rajasthan’s mining landscape, the rot runs deep

A spurt in construction activity, fuelled by rapid urbanization in New Delhi and surrounding areas, triggered a surge in demand for masonry stone found in Rajasthan leading to rampant illegal mining in the Aravalli area.

The Morning Context investigation found instances of grave mining-related violations, at the heart of which lies a nexus between leaseholders, government officials, illegal mining gangs, big companies and politicians.

Our findings show how mining rules are flouted openly and routinely, and the authorities are barely able to keep up—from allotting leases to obtaining environmental clearances to excavating and, finally, transporting minerals.

Between March and December 2021, the Rajasthan government collected fines worth Rs 52.05 crore for excessive mining.

But the situation on the ground tells a different story.

In official records, 160,000 tonnes of limestone was excavated from a mine (Lease No. 68/2002) in Sikar district. Analysis shows more than 400,000 tonnes was mined.

At another mine in Sikar district (Lease No. 293/2005), our estimates show nearly 1 million tonnes of limestone was extracted, as opposed to the official number of 38,000 tonnes.

More than 90% of leases in the state have been allotted in a seamless process based on falsified facts, says Kailash Meena, an anti-mining activist based in Sikar district.

“The environment department is the worst of the bunch. In all these years, I have never once heard of or seen an instance in which its employees visited a mine. They visualize the mines in their dreams.”