A new circular has been issued on the issuance of permits for the quarrying, transportation and trade of black stone, sand, soil, gravel and clay.
President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has appointed a Presidential Task Force to study the development priorities, private enterprises, small self-employment and the use of land resources for their economic livelihood needs and the sources and methods of obtaining them.
The task force was tasked with introducing a licensing process to protect the environment, overcoming difficulties encountered by the public, private companies as well as statutory government agencies in the process of excavation, transportation and trade of land resources.
The Code of Conduct for Minerals, Transport and Trade for the Construction Industry has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and includes the Heads of all relevant Institutions. And Secretary to the President PB Dissanayake Jayasundera has been ordered by the new circular.
The Presidential Task Force on Land Resources has suggested that tasks such as early identification, mapping of locations where land resources can be excavated, identification of institutions that own those resources and obtaining the necessary clearance certificates should be implemented within a unitary institutional structure.
All applicable statutory state institutions should build or reform the administrative structure required to operate within a unitary system instead of the methods previously implemented in isolation.
According to the instructions in the chapters of the Code, the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau has taken steps to completely reorganize the licensing process.
The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau should take steps to prevent clients from obtaining clearances from several institutions unnecessarily.
The circular also emphasizes that steps should be taken to delegate the necessary powers to the District Secretaries, Divisional Secretaries, Grama Niladharis and other officials and to provide them with the necessary legal documents as proposed.
Steps should be taken to provide the relevant clearances or environmental certificates within the time period recommended by the Presidential Task Force.
A statement issued by the Presidential Media Unit states that the existing regulations, gazette notifications and circulars may be amended.
As the necessary approval has been given by the Cabinet of Ministers, if there are any such amendments, the heads of the relevant statutory public institutions should take action to complete them without delay.
Prior to the issuance of an excavation permit, the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau collects fees on behalf of all relevant government agencies and the money is to be credited to an approved person head under the Ministry of Environment.
The circular further states that no fees other than those prescribed by the Code of Conduct for Minerals, Transport and Trade used in the construction industry should be imposed or revised without the consent of the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance.
The Presidential Task Force (STF) has studied the emergence of environmental issues in the excavation of land resources and the lack of coordination between agencies in addressing public grievances and the need to address them. The oversight committees should meet immediately and take necessary decisions.
The Ministry of Environment should carry out the necessary continuous program and monitoring to obtain maximum support from all statutory government agencies for the methods approved by the Cabinet.
Secretary to the President P.B. Mr. Jayasundera has further informed through the circular.