CHENNAI: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday has admitted a petition filed by former Vijayawada legislator Devineni Rajasekhar and issued notices to Andhra Pradesh government, the Director of Mines and Geology and to all District Collectors following allegations of misuse of the recently introduced Free Sand Policy.
The bench, comprising Justice P Jyothimani and expert member PS Rao, gave respondents time till August 26 to file their replies.
The counsel for the petitioner has submitted a photographic evidence of individuals using heavy machineries like procliners and dredges to suck out sand from the river banks and the underwater, violating all the stipulated norms and causing an irreversible damage to the ecology.
The policy says that only manual mining is allowed. Even, the Union government issued a notification for regulation of sand mining, which includes total prohibition of machinery for excavation/quarrying of sand.
The tribunal taking cognizance of the facts has imposed a blanket ban on use of heavy machinery and vehicles having more than 3 MT capacity to ply on flood plains, river beds and reach points.
Devineni Rajasekhar alleged in the petition that the Free Sand Policy had led toindiscriminate sandmining in the reaches of all rivers including the river Krishna and river Godavari by using heavy machinery which, apart from damaging the flood banks/river bed, is resulting in total destruction of ecology.
It was submitted that the Andhra Pradesh government didn’t have paraphernalia to control the indiscriminate sandmining as there was no monitoring mechanism in place. Now every person has got the right to remove sand since there is no accountability for removing it in the State. Also, as there is no price fixation for the sand excavated, there are no permits issued by the competent authority for transportation of the sand.
“Any person can excavate sand and transport it to any part of the State. This has led to indiscriminate sand mining by mafia. There are also instances of sand being transported to bordering States and sold for exorbitant prices,” the petitioner alleged.