Satara, Maharashtra: The Mining sector is getting affected by political interference and Naxalism, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said, insisting that it was not just illegal mining but legal activities too that were having an "adverse" effect of environment.
"It is not just illegal mining but legal mining too which has serious adverse environmental consequences. The time has come to do a rethink on how we carry out mining today. The overall sector is getting affected by the political interference and naxalism," the Rural Development Minister said.
He was speaking to reporters after visiting Chandawad, Ozarde and Dhamner villages which were given 'Nirmal Gram' award for cleanliness.
Ramesh took stock of the ongoing work on the UPA's flagship programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme to name a few in the district.
The minister said he was expecting that the allocation for some of the flagship social schemes could be raised "substantially" in the upcoming Budget.
"Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation may see a hike in allocation that could be anything between 40 to 60 percent. I expect the most significant increase to take place in water supply and sanitation.
"The finance minister has promised a substantial increase... We are hoping for a significant rise in the outlay for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana as well," he said.
"We must feel that investment in water supply and sanitation is a matter of urgent priority," Ramesh said,
adding sanitation could provide security to women in the countryside where people resort to open air defecation.
Ramesh also interacted with villagers after paying visit to various projects.
He said the Centre was proposing to allocate one percent of the total annual outlay for the purpose of building basic infrastructure for Gram Panchayats across the country.
Ramesh also informed that some five lakh-odd sugarcane workers in Maharashtra would be entitled to get houses under the Indira Awas Yojana subject to contribution from the state government.
Meanwhile, replying to a query on people preferring open air defecation to toilet, the minister said," there seems certain cultural norms associated with open defecation".
Ramesh also hailed the women's savings groups for "transforming" rural economy in the country.
He congratulated Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister-designate Akhilesh Yadav who is all set to become the youngest head of that state.