NGT seeks report on damages due to sand mining in Jaipur villages

Illegal sand mining affecting health and environment in and around 5 villages of Jaipur’s Katputli tehsil, villagers claim

By Susan Chacko
Published: Friday 25 June 2021

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Central Bench, Bhopal ordered the director of mines, Rajasthan to monitor on regular basis cases of illegal sand mining taking place around several villages in Jaipur’s Katputli tehsil.

The green body June 23, 2021 ordered the official to look into the regulation and enforcement of Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 and Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining 2020 in Shuklavas, Pichani, Pavana, Bhuchara and Dhudhawas villages.

The NGT also ordered the collector, Jaipur, to submit a report on the damages incurred by the nearby buildings due to blasting done by the miners as well as the distance of the mines from human habitation.

It asked the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board to submit a report on the violation of environmental norms by the mines and the damages caused.

The NGT order, passed by the bench of Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Arun Kumar Verma, said:

The vehicles involved in illegal mining must be dealt with in accordance with the sand mining guidelines and environmental compensation must be assessed and realised accordingly.

The applicant, Khanan Grasth Sangharsh Samiti and others, have to submit proof of damages caused to school and other buildings as well as to human health so that necessary action can be initiated against the miners, the order noted.

All the reports / counter affidavits have to be filed within four weeks, the NGT said in its order.

As many as 15 mines excavated minor minerals unscientifically, harming the environment around the tehsil’s five villages, the villagers alleged in their application before the NGT August 6, 2020.

The mining — carried out through deep-hole blasting within 50-200 meters of habitation — led to structural and property damage. The mines did not follow conditions of environment clearances and consent to operate, leading to pollution that affected the health of its inhabitants.

The matter was first taken up August 28, 2020. The NGT had directed the constitution of a committee comprising the collector and Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board representative. The committee was directed to visit the site and submit a factual and action taken report.

The report filed by the committee stated that mines were excavated up to minimum depth of 125 feet. Damage to the building, including a school building, was reported.

The committee report, however, was silent on the effect of blasting on human health and damage to buildings was not calculated. The report did not mention the effect on water resources and whether any plantation was done by the miners.

The applicants also pointed out the inadequacies in the committee report: Damage to the property and the health and air quality was been properly assessed by the committee.

The court, over the course of the proceedings, noted that the matter of illegal sand mining has been dealt with by the Tribunal in the past as well. It underscored the adverse impact of unscientific and unregulated sand mining and directed the matter to be listed August 3, 2021.

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