Daily Court Digest: Major environment orders (November 30, 2023)

Down To Earth brings you the top environmental cases heard in the Supreme Court, the high courts and the National Green Tribunal

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 30 November 2023

Fire and structural safety of schools and colleges in Telangana

The Telangana High Court on November 23, 2023 gave four weeks’ time to the authorities to file a compliance report on the safety measures followed in government schools and junior colleges across the state.

The petitioner sought a writ of mandamus directing the authorities concerned to provide a sufficient number of fire extinguishers and to obtain structural safety and soundness, sanitation and water purity certificates regularly for Telangana’s government schools and junior colleges.

The public interest litigation also questioned the state’s implementation of the recommendations in the National Disaster Management Authority Guidelines for School Safety Policy, 2016.

Illegal sand mining in Pulwama

The NGT November 28 directed Jammu and Kashmir Environment Impact Assessment Authority and district magistrate, Pulwama to file a report on illegal sand mining in Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir. The report has to be filed at least one week before the next date of hearing, February 5, 2024.

Counsel for the applicant, Raja Muzaffar Bhat, told the court that a private entity is mining sand in violation of Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines, 2016 and Enforcement and  Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining, 2020 and the condition of environmental clearance dated March 4, 2022. 

Some of the environmental clearance conditions violated during the mining were the prohibition on mining outside prescribed areas, use of heavy machinery for mining and prohibition on mining within active water channels. 

Large-scale illegal mining in Sitarganj, Uttarakhand

The NGT on November 28 directed notices be issued to authorities over allegations of illegal mining in Kailash river, Nakulia village, Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand. 

An application was registered suo motu in response to a news article in the newspaper Hindustan on October 31, 2023 stating mining mafia was illegally extracting materials from the Kailash river bed on a large scale using extraction machinery, endangering the future of nearby residents.

The article brought up a substantial issue relating to compliance with environmental laws, the tribunal said. It directed notices be issued to the Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB); district magistrate, Sitarganj, Udham Singh Nagar district and mining department, Uttarakhand. 

The counsel for UEPPCB submitted on advance notice that the board was not in a position to take any action in the matter as the mining department had not informed it  about sanctioned mining and extent of illegal mining.

The pradhan of Nakulia village had sent a representation to the sub-divisional magistrate against illegal mining using machines in river Kailash, Nakulia village, the article stated. The river flow could be diverted towards populated areas and houses of villagers due to the illegal mining, which could lead to agricultural land being submerged, it added. 

The danger of flooding had also increased and 6-7 feet deep pits were formed, the newspaper article said.

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