Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal
Mining in Sonebhadra
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) October 13, 2020, directed the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) to restore an area damaged by illegal mining and stone crushing in the Sonebhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.
Stone-cutting companies such as Maihar Stone, Jai Maa Bhandari Stone, Jyoti Stone, Vaishno Stone and Guru Kripa Associates were named as having carried out illegal mining and stone crushing in the area.
The reports filed by a joint committee comprising representatives of the UPPCB and the district magistrate of Sonebhadra had acknowledged that illegal mining was taking place in violation of environmental norms.
The NGT in its order December 19, 2019, had directed steps to be taken to cancel the environment clearance (EC) for violation of EC conditions and compensation to be recovered on the ‘polluter pays’ principle. The court had also directed a restoration plan to be prepared that would utilise the amount of compensation recovered.
An October 9 report was filed by the UPPCB in furtherance to the NGT order. The report informed the Tribunal that the issue of compensation had been finalised.
DSR for Banka district
The NGT October 14 directed a fresh district survey report (DSR) on sand mining in Banka district of Bihar. An application filed in the NGT had noted that an interim DSR had been prepared for sand mining in Banka district in 2018 but had never been finalised.
The NGT also directed that the DSR must be prepared through consultants accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Education and Training / Quality Control Council of India.
The DSR so prepared should be submitted to the district magistrate who would verify it only in respect of the relevant facts pertaining to the physical and geographical features of the district.
After such verification, the magistrate would forward the DSR for examination and evaluation by the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC).
The SEAC, after appraisal of the report, would then forward it to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority for consideration and approval provided it met all scientific / technical requirements.
Mining in Bhilwara
The NGT granted time to the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board (RSPCB) for submitting a final report on remedial actions against illegal blasting and mining by Jindal Saw Ltd, Bhilwara, by January 31, 2021.
The report by the RSPCB August 19, 2019, had acknowledged vibrations in the buildings in the vicinity of the mining activity. The adverse impact was on structural as well as non-structural aspects.
The report recommended that ‘tell tales’ (equipment to monitor cracks) be installed across the cracks. The mining area was to be pre-split from the village. A team of experts had been deputed the report had stated.
The NGT October 10, 2019 had accordingly directed the district magistrate of Bhilwara to furnish a fresh report on the matter.
A report October 1, 2020 by RSPCB stated that the interim study reports of CSIR–CIMFR, Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, CSIR-CBRI, Roorkee in Uttarakhand and the Department of Hydrology, IIT, Roorkee had been received from the district collector of Bhilwara.
The team of CSIR-CBRI, Roorkee, had started the remaining study of geotechnical investigations and monitoring of cracks in houses of Pur village from September 28, 2020, which would be completed shortly.
The report requested that the interim study reports be taken on record and said the delay in submission of final reports along with mitigation measures for the existing problems in Pur village should be acknowledged due to the present COVID-19 pandemic situation.
The interim reports are on ‘blast induced vibrations and air overpressure and investigation on its damage potential vis-a-viz housing structures’ and ‘hydro-geological study’.
The first interim report found the extent of damage potential on the housing structure based on field trials in the area. The report was based on the investigation carried out by the team. The details of blasting field trials, monitoring of the blasts induced ground vibration and status of the work done had been mentioned.
The second study was based on the survey of the area within a two-km radius from centre of Pur village, using a series of filed experiments.
The committee also developed a lithofacies map of the subsurface zone of the study area and aquifer characterisation at different depths. It also conducted chemical analysis of the water supply and the ground water samples and estimated the ground water flow regime. The investigations by the committee were on-going.
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