DEHRADUN: After the state cabinet increased mining depth limit from 1.5 meters to 3 meters on river beds of Uttarakhand, activists and environmentalists said that they will move to court as the move will prove detrimental to the ecology of the state, especially riverbeds.
Ajay Gautam, who has filed multiple public interest litigations in Uttarakhand High Court regarding ecology, environment including cleanliness of Ganga river said, "The decision is going to hurt rivers of Uttarakhand and will prove harmful for Uttarakhand in long run. The disaster of 2013 was a warning for us but the government seem to have forgotten that."
However, the state government and mining lobby welcomed the decision saying that the limit was set by the central government for rivers across the country and they are just adopting it.
Madan Kaushik, state cabinet minister and spokesperson for the state government said, "We are only implementing central government decision which was taken in the year 2016.'
Last week, the state cabinet approved an amendment in Uttarakhand Minor Mineral Concession Rules 2001 according to which now riverbed material (RBM) can be mined up to a depth of three metres which was limited to only 1.5 m earlier.
Anil Prakash Joshi, a Padam Shri awardee environmentalist from Dehradun said, "The mining operations in such excess will increae the frequency of floods in adjacent villages of the rivers. We are going to witness carnage of unprecedented levels if this continues."
In March 2017, Uttarakhand High Court had directed the state government to take a strict stand on illegal mining and put a stop on such activities in Kosi and Dabka riverbeds with immediate effect.
In August 2018, Uttarakhand high court had directed the state government that no licenses be issued for establishing stone crushers/ screening plants till further orders, without assessing the carrying capacity of Kosi and Dabka rivers.
Last year, in July, the HC had directed the state government and state forest development corporation to inform the court about the steps taken to check illegal extraction of river-bed material from the Kosi river a Kumaon river that originates in Almora and flows through Ramnagar.