Bhutan is moving to regulate the use of its natural resources. A new law, introduced in the revised Forest and Nature Conservation Rules, requires individuals and companies to procure a licence to collect and sell sand, soil, gravel, rocks and peat from government land.
The licence would be awarded through "open auctions" and the beneficiaries would pay the government royalty. Till the rule is enforced, business can be conducted by obtaining a permit from the forestry department. The new rule also contains provisions for collection of the aforesaid materials from private land. In this case, the applicant would need to obtain clearance from the national environment commission, the department of roads, the landowner (if the tract is not personally owned) as well as any other relevant organisation.
A boom in Bhutan's construction industry has made the sand and stones business lucrative. But high demand and good prices have often resulted in unrestrained collection of material. Rules were urgently needed to rein in this activity, feels Ugyen Thinley, director of forestry services. They would ensure that the country's natural resources are utilised sensibly, adds Thinley.
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