Don't issue fresh sand mining permits: NGT

Published: 05th September 2013 05:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2013 05:05 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday directed the Uttarakhand government not to issue any fresh permits for carrying out sand mining in the state on a plea alleging that such activities are going on in violation of its orders.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also issued notice to Uttarakhand and sought its response by the next date of hearing, September 26, on the plea seeking a stay on the operation of the state government's notifications allowing sand mining without permission of the MoEF.

The order came on a petition filed by Khush Naseeb Khan, a resident of Uttarakhand, who has alleged that large scale removal of sand from river beds is being carried out without any environment clearance, as the state has issued notifications extending the period of licences granted by Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for sand mining.

Advocate Ajit Sharma, appearing for Khan, submitted that though the state needs sand for purposes of reconstruction of buildings, infrastructure, which were damaged in the recent floods, mining should be allowed only after studying impact of such activity on the environment.

He contended the state has not taken into account the possibility of change in the rivers' course as well as occurrence of floods due to mining during the monsoon season.

Sharma also contended that mining activity in the state is in violation of NGT's August 5 order by which it had imposed a ban on removal of sand from river beds without environment clearance.

It is also alleged in the petition that removal of sand has been sanctioned by the state not only in river beds and farmlands throughout the state, but also in areas which were not affected by the recent natural calamity.

The petition claims that mining usually remains suspended during monsoons for environmental and safety reasons, but this year the state through its notifications of July 12 and August 1 extended the licence period to the rainy season.

It is also claimed that sand is being mined and stocked up in order to be sold when the notification expires on September 30.

Khan in his petition contended that "commencement of mining activities in river beds and other areas of the state will lead to further soil erosion and make the state more vulnerable to natural calamities such as the one witnessed recently."

Apart from seeking "an impartial inquiry into issuance of mining permits throughout the state", the petition also sought directions calling for necessary records of such permits.

It also alleged that "large scale mining is going on in the garb of lifting minerals on surface by the land owners and mining mafia pursuant to the permission granted by state vide its notifications."

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