New Delhi, Aug 5 (PTI):Ā The National Green Tribunal today restrained sand mining without any licence or environmental clearance from river beds across the country on a plea alleging that such activities were going on in UP with the “wilful connivance” of its state machinery.
Widening the ambit of the plea, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said its order would be applicable across the nation as the petition raises substantial environmental issues.
Initially, the bench restrained illegal sand mining on the beds and banks of rivers Yamuna, Ganga, Hindon, Chambal, Gomti, amongst others, but later modified its order saying the issue of illegally removing sand has nationwide implications.
The tribunal also directed all the mining officers and concerned police officers of all the states to ensure compliance of its orders, on the plea filed by the National Green Tribunal Bar Association.It also issued notice to all respondents seeking their response by August 14.
The petition alleged that those who have opposed such sand mining, including field level officers, like suspended SDM Durga Sakhti Nagpal, have been victimised which is also apparent from various news reports.
It also alleged that recently a man who had raised his voice against the “powerful sand mafia” had been killed in his home by few goons in broad daylight.
Senior advocate Raj Panjwani assisted by advocate Ritwick Dutta, appearing for the association, contended that “rampant” illegal mining and transport of lakhs of tonnes of sand is being carried on every year and is causing a loss of lakhs of crores of rupees to the state exchequer.
The loss caused to the state exchequer may run into lakhs of crores of rupees, the Tribunal noted in its order.
“Uttar Pradesh state authorities have failed and/or have intentionally not taken appropriate legal action against the project proponents (those carrying out mining) and thus have abetted and wilfully connived in allowing such illegal sand mining to take place in complete violation of environmental and other applicable laws,” the petition alleged.
In its petition, the association contended that “rampant illegal sand mining in the river beds of Yamuna, Ganga, Hindon, amongst others, without prior environmental clearance or in violation of the EC is being carried out and the same is affecting the integrity of the concerned river systems and flood plains”.
“The activity of sand mining is adversely affecting the ecosystem and the overall ecology of the area,”,the plea said adding the Supreme Court in a February 2012 order had taken note of adverse effects of sand mining.
The apex court had also held that any person carrying on sand mining on land which is less than five hectares, requires clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests or the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).