Shimla: Chief Secretary Srikant Baldi on Tuesday conveyed state’s anguish to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) over two to three-year delays in granting its approvals to ‘muck dumping’ sites for key infrastructure and development projects.Baldi held the view that selection and approval of the muck dumping sites should be left to the state, and powers to approve such sites be delegated to the state. “This is a strange thing that it talks such a long to grant approvals to sites where muck/debris be dumped suitably. The MoEF must treat proper disposal of the muck by the state agencies as environmental service and give powers to the state to handle this issue,” he said. Baldi was speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day workshop of media professional, organised by Sunita Narain led Delhi-based environment organisation Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to upgrade skills of journalists on the environment and climate change reporting from ‘Global hotspot’ Himachal Pradesh. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghThe Chief Secretary said the government was fully committed to environmental protection and has a series of path-breaking steps like a complete ban on plastic. The government ‘s resolve is to make Himachal Pradesh plastic-free in the next coming months. He also spoke about the excessive use of pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers, which are entering the food chain and resulting in new diseases. During the workshop Richard Mahapatra, a development journalist and Managing Director of “Down to Earth” said Himachal Pradesh, or even Himalayan region, was showing signs of climate change. There are more extreme weather conditions, droughts and desertification happening in the state, which going to be hard hit by climate change. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad”Kangra, for example, has not received its normal rainfall during the past 15 years. For the first time in higher hills, people are seeing nomads. The nomads are clueless, changing route and time evolved over a hundred years ago. Apples, of course, are now being produced at a higher level and farmers in lower altitude are opting other crops. Snowfall has drastically decreased in Himachal Pradesh and rain and hailstorms have increased over the last 25 years,” he explained.
New Delhi: With the Uttar Pradesh Assembly bypoll around the corner, the CBI on Monday registered the sixth FIR in connection with irregularities of renewing sand mining leases in UP’s Saharanpur during the Samajwadi Party government in the state, naming two senior IAS officers, who were at the time posted as District Magistrates in the area.The Central Bureau of Investigation subsequently on Tuesday started conducting search operations at 11 locations in Saharanpur, Lucknow and Dehradun at premises of all the accused in the case. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadThe Lucknow residence of Ajay Kumar Singh, currently posted as a Secretary in the UP Khadi and Village Industries Board, was raided by CBI officials, from where Rs 15 lakh in cash and property documents pertaining to one commercial and one residential plot were recovered. The other seraches were conducted at the premises of IAS officer Pawa Kumar, currently posted as a Special Secretary in the Housing and Urban Development Department of the state government and lease holders of 13 mining contracts, who had allegedly conspired with both the public servants to unduly get their leases renewed. These raids resulted in the recovery of several incriminating documents that are being analysed, officials here said. Also Read – Firms staying closed 10 days a month due to recession, govt doing nothing: Priyanka GandhiAccording to this recent FIR, the CBI has alleged that Singh and Kumar had conspired with at least 10 lease holders in Saharanpur to get their leases renewed, in violation of a 2012 state government order that asked administrations to call for e-tendering in case of lease renewals. First, Singh, who was DM of the district from 2012 to 2014 had renewed 13 mining leases in favour of the accused without calling for e-tender, between August and November of 2012. This renewal was for a period of three years. Then in 2015, the CBI alleged that Kumar unduly renewed these 13 leases of the accused again without calling for e-tender. Singh is an IAS officer of the UP cadre from the 1998-batch and Kumar is of the same cadre from the 2008-batch. They are the recent additions in the list of bureaucrats who have been booked by the central agency in connection with the snad mining corruption scandal in the state. Just a few months back the CBI had booked Abhay Singh and Vivek in connection with mining lease irregularities in Deoria and Fatehpur districts. This recent FIR has been converted from a preliminary enquiry the agency had registered on orders from the Supreme Court of India, after the Allahabad High Court had ordered the CBI to register six other PEs in connection with the case. In total, the CBI had registered seven PEs to look into irregularities in granting and renewal of sand mining leases in the districts of Deoria, Fatehpur, Kaushambi, Shamli, Hamirpur, Saharanpur and one other district. The CBI had named now-infamous IAS officer B Chandrakala in the Hamirpur case in January this year and also listed former Mining Minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government, Gayatri Prajapati as an accused in the Fatehpur case, adding that Mining Ministers during the period under probe will be coming under the scanner. Yadav himself was Mining Minister in the UP government for a short time when his government was in poer in the state.