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To catch illegal coal miners, Govt powers surveillance app

To catch illegal coal miners, Govt powers surveillance app

New Delhi: To take a stringent measure on illegal mining, the coal ministry launched a satellite-driven surveillance application on Wednesday here. Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications & Geo-Informatics (BISAG), Gandhinagar and Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Limited (CMPDI) collaboratively designed the web-based application where the satellite data will be scanned to detect any coal mining activity which is extending outside the authorized leasehold area. This has been developed to detect the illegal mining at coalfields, especially in Jharkhand and West Bengal. The mobile application is 'Khan Prahari'.

"Now every citizen has the right to share information regarding the illegal mining at their respective areas with the government directly and they can track their complaints through the development," the coal minister Piyush Goyal said during his address.

Anyone can take a picture from the local coalfield of illegal mining and can directly upload in this web-based application, after registering themselves, but from only within 100 meters of the boundary.

The local administration, police and the CISF will also be kept in the loop. Reports generated through both the website and the mobile application will be automatically forwarded to Nodal officers, nominated by CIL or SCCL in various states.

They will verify and will take action as per law, a ministry official said. Furthermore, taking a measure on the privacy the identity of the complainant will not be revealed.

Meanwhile, the minister also feels that through the system the government will also be able to have a proper statistics and even will be able to circulate on the floor of the House to other Parliamentarians.

However, there are some loopholes in the applications, where the satellite will be placed over the spots in every three months and thus the minister urged the team to randomize the system more to curb the possibilities of illegal mining more.

Goyal further feels that it is the best way to use the spacing mechanism in a 'peaceful manner, without spying on the foreign counterparts and others'.

"This government changed the game of coal in the entire country, where people are getting the right quality of coal for which they are paying," he said.

Coal is mined illegally through rat-holes, abandoned mines, river beds and various other pilferage methods. Addressing this issue the minister also said that the illegal mining has two dangerous dimensions, tax evasion and harming the environment.

The new coal secretary Indrajit Singh added, "We are aware of the remoteness of such coalfields and it is not possible for a human to keep track, therefore, we are trying to make the best use of the satellite."

Coal India Limited's new chairman Anil Kumar Jha was also present in the programme at the Ashoka Hotel in the national capital, where Goyal lauded CIL for its recent 15.8 percent coal production growth in the June quarter than the last corresponding

quarter.

Simontini Bhattacharjee

Simontini Bhattacharjee

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