The Uttarakhand government on Wednesday fixed the distance of setting up of stone crusher and hot-mix plants 1.5 kilometre away from the bank of river Ganga under its Stone-Crusher, Mobile Stone-Crusher and Hot-Mix Plant Policy, 2020.

The decision was taken during the state cabinet meeting held in Dehradun which was chaired by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.

Informing the mediapersons on the important decision, Madan Kaushik, cabinet minister and government spokesperson said, “Under the policy, stone crusher and hot-mix plants could be set up at a distance of 1.5 km away from the bank of Ganga, 1 km away from the banks of rivers in plain areas and 500 metres away from the banks of a rain-water fed river in the state.”

“Apart from this, there were also some decisions taken regarding stone-crushers plants and storage of minerals under which the rights to grant permissions for the same will now be with the district magistrates and not administration. The applicant will now have to seek permission from the respective DMs and not the state government,” said Kaushik.

He also informed that the license for retail storage of minerals would be given for five years instead of existing two years.

“Similarly the license period for the Stone-crusher and hot-mix plants would be given for two years and not the existing one year. After two years he would have to renew the license,” said Kaushik adding “all the transactions in this will have to be made through cheque or demand drafts and not cash.”

The minister also informed that the government has “put a complete prohibition on bringing in and taking out riverbed materials from the state”.

Informing about other decisions made in the Cabinet meeting, Kaushik also revealed the fund collected in the Chief Minister Relief Fund (CMRF) during the pandemic period while taking a dig at Opposition Congress.

“A total of Rs 154.56 crore was collected in the CMRF through donations from various sections of society from March 15 to June 26. Out of this, the government has spent a total of Rs 85.60 crore,” said Kaushik.

He said, “Majority of the fund was spent in fighting the pandemic, developing quarantine facilities, providing food and ration to needy ones, arranging transport facilities for the migrants returning home and helping tourists stranded here.”

Taking a dig at the Congress he said, “We decided to reveal the figures as the Congress has been raising questions on its credibility despite the fact that they didn’t contribute a single penny in it.”

The Congress hit back. “Revealing the funds collected in CMRF is no big feat as it can be availed by a simple RTI application also,” said Suryakant Dhasmana, the vice president of Congress’ Uttarakhand unit.

“As far as their claim of spending the fund in relief works is concerned, it’s all lies because nothing is visible on the ground. Instead of contributing to this dubious fund, we have helped the needy ones directly,” he added.