Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has issued directions that strict action should be initiated against those smuggling construction material to other states and vehicles will be confiscated, a government spokesperson said.

He said that the decision was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by the Chief Minister in Shimla on Monday evening.

The initial time frame decided for the ban is three months, but it can be extended, the spokesperson added. To check illegal mining, the government has decided to make available bar-coded forms to all mining lease holders. The Chief Minister has directed revenue and forest departments to check illegal mining.

As per new guidelines, the government has authorized 39 officers of various departments to make complaints in the court of competent jurisdiction under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.

In addition, 20 officials had been authorized to seize any mineral extracted or transported by anyone without lawful authority.

Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri said that 4,282 illegal mining cases have been detected this year and Rs 2.38 crore fine was imposed.

The Chief Minister last month admitted in the assembly that illegal mining mafia was enjoying political patronage. But he assured that his government would soon clamp down on the mafia.

Illegal mining in Himachal Pradesh is an acute problem in Una, Solan and Sirmaur districts, adjoining Punjab and Haryana, official sources said.

(Agencies)

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