No sand mining without environment clearance: NGT
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a restraint order against all sand mining activity being carried out across the country without environmental clearance. The order was passed in the light of the recent controversy surrounding the suspension of IAS officer posted as sub divisional magistrate (SDM) in Greater Noida in Gautam Buddh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh after she cracked down on the mining mafia. While passing the order, NGT reaffirmed the Supreme Court’s order last year which banned any kind of mining of minor minerals, including sand, without environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
A bench comprising justices Swatenter Kumar, U D Salvi, S N Hussain, and experts, D K Agarwal and Ranjan Chatterjee on Monday said that removal of minerals from river beds is posing a serious threat to the flow of rivers, survival of forests upon river banks and most seriously to the environment of river banks, especially those of the Yamuna, Ganga, Chambal, Gaumti and Revati rivers.
Order on bar association’s plea
The order was given on a petition filed by the NGT Bar Association that stated that the violations committed in Uttar Pradesh has caused losses amounting to lakhs of crores of rupees to the state exchequer. The petitions describe in detail various reports by media on the suspension of Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS officer, Durga Shakti Nagpal, who along with the mining officials of the state geology department, cracked down the illegal mining of sand in and along the Yamuna and Hindon rivers. While stating that all the aspects are covered under Schedule 1 of NGT Act, 2010, the association appealed to the bench to curb illegal mining activity.
The NGT bench observed that “majority of persons carrying out mining activity of removing mineral from the river bed have no licence to extract sand; they also have not obtained clearance from MoEF/SEIAA at any stage in terms of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EP Act, 1986) as well as Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) act, 1974.”
For these reasons the bench ordered that it restrains any person, company, authority to carry out any mining activity or removal of sand, from river beds anywhere in the country without obtaining Environmental Clearance from Ministry of Environment Forests/SEIAA and licence from the competent authorities.