Millennium Post

Illegal mining: Satellites to track mineral extraction

Government is working on a pan- India surveillance network using latest satellite technology to curb illegal mining, which will also provide crucial inputs on the volume of minerals extracted from the site.

The Mines Ministry is closely working with Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geo-Informatics (BISAG) under the Department of Communications and IT for developing the technology for the platform.

"It will be a state-of-the-art system that will track the mine lease areas and will detect even the slightest change in topography. This will inform us about the amount of ground exploited and through analytics and simulations will inform us about the volume of minerals stolen," a senior official said.
Once the system is activated, the ministry will feed all the site data, maps and coordinates into the system that will be utilised as standard data, which it will compare with the data that will be sent from the satellites, he added.

The Mining Surveillance System (MSS) for major minerals is being developed with the help of BISAG and will be set up at National remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad, he said.

"Satellites will scout the mine site once in about 24-25 days and will send coordinates and data to the centre, which will be fed into the system. This data will then be compared with the initial data and we will know about the difference in landscape, volume of ground dug, etc," the official added.

Conforming the development, another official said Mines Ministry has asked states to provide the available digitised lease-wise information for all major mineral leases in their areas for expediting the development of MSS.

The Centre has also strengthened penal provisions to check illegal mining in the country. The penal provisions for illegal mining cases under Section 21 have been enhanced to a maximum penalty of Rs 5 lakh and jail term of 5 years.

According to the latest government data, 48,467 illegal mining cases of major and minor minerals have been registered in April-September 2015-16. This is against 97,149 in 2014-15, 88,689 in 2013-14 and 98,597 in 2012-13.

As per the action taken report, 14,458 FIRs have been filed, 43,091 cases lodged in various courts, 1,81 lakh vehicles seized and about Rs 1,170 crore realised by states during 2012-13 and April-September 2015-16. 

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