CHENNAI: The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal on Wednesday constituted a committee to look into the illegal sand mining from the Cooum river close to the Marina in Chennai. The tribunal was hearing a petition that cited TNIE’s exclusive report on the mining taking place in the heart of the city.
The bench of judicial member Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member K Satyagopal said the committee will have a senior official from the regional office of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, a senior official of the TN Coastal Zone Management Authority, Chennai District Collector, Superintending Engineer from the Public Works Department (PWD), and the City Police Commissioner or another officer recommended by him. The committee shall submit a report before October 8.
The committee is to investigate whether sand was mined illegally, who used the sand, what action has been initiated, and also to assess the environmental impact of such an operation in the area. The PWD, State Coastal Management Authority, and the Collector have also been asked to submit independent reports. They must conduct surprise inspections, including at nights, the bench directed.
‘Form permanent expert committee to monitor CRZ’
The petition by MR Thiyagarajan, president of Meenava Thanthai KR Selvaraj Kumar Meenava Nala Sangam, stated that the large scale illegal mining of sand from the area had caused severe degradation to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and to the ecosystem, thereby posing a risk to the fishing community’s livelihood. The petitioner attached the TNIE article on the issue that was published on September 7.
The petition also stated that the alleged violators have caused degradation of sand dunes, resulting in several deep pits, and the same caused destruction and alteration to the CRZ. “The extraction of sea sand by the alleged violators are in contravention of the rules and regulations enshrined under the Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining, 2020, as well as to the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016, issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,” the petition said.
He also sought the appointment of a permanent expert committee to monitor the CRZ for illegal excavation of sea sand, initiate appropriate action against violators and erring officials, and also prevent using sea sand for construction. The petition also sought the removal of construction debris dumped in the CRZ near Napier bridge.
‘Severe degradation to coastal ecosystem’
The NGT tribunal was hearing a petition filed by MR Thiyagarajan, president of Meenava Thanthai KR Selvaraj Kumar Meenava Nala Sangam. Thiyagarajan stated the large-scale illegal mining of sand from the area had caused severe degradation to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and to the coastal ecosystem, thereby posing a risk to the fishing community’s livelihood. The petitioner had cited the TNIE report highlighting the issue