The Sri Lankan Supreme Court (SC) has directed the country's Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and the police to take necessary action to prevent illegal sand mining. It has also asked the CEA to submit a report on the effects of sand mining along Maha Oya river.
The court's order came in response to a fundamental rights petition filed by an individual over the cancellation of his licence to mine sand adjacent to the Maha Oya. The SC bench, comprising Chief Justice Sarath N Silva, Justice Shiranee Thilakawardena and Justice Asoka de Silva, asked non-governmental organisation Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL) to assist the court.
Jagath Gunawardena, making submissions on behalf of EFL, said that the petitioner was carrying out the sand mining operations without conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA). Further, the CEA's approval had not been sought. Under Sri Lanka's National Environment Act, mechanised mining and mineral extractions as well as quarrying operations for marble, limestone, silica, quartz and decorative stone, done within a kilometre of any residential or commercial area, require an EIA.
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