The National Legal Services Authority will file a social justice litigation petition in the Supreme Court for protection of rivers from sand mining operations.

The decision was taken at a meeting held here on Saturday under the chairmanship of Justice Altamas Kabir of the Supreme Court and NALSA executive chairman.

According to NALSA member-secretary U. Saratchandran, “Rivers are the important lifelines for water requirements of riparian lands and also for the watershed areas of such rivers. Environmental scientists say that due to sand mining, the river bed goes deep and that the capacity of water to dissipate to riparian lands is diminishing, resulting in drought on either side of the rivers. Deepening of the rivers results in landslides also.”

Call for policy

He said: “Due to the rapid growth of construction activities, the need for river sand has increased. As a result, the ‘sand mafia’ has become avaricious and tends to flout the court orders and the local laws. Police and politicians also collude with them. Taking into account the needs of the construction industry and the need to protect the rivers in our country, a policy needs to be framed, in tune with the principles of sustainable development, for regulating sand mining activities in a sustainable manner, meeting the needs of the present generation, without endangering the opportunities of the future generation to enjoy the natural resources.”

He said the petition would be taken up by the Green Bench, which deals with the pending environmental litigation Godavarman Thirumulpad vs. Union of India.

NALSA decided to utilise the services of students of law universities and law colleges to monitor environmental issues including sand mining, and plans to make a request to the Supreme Court to this effect.

Social justice mandate

Under Section 4(d) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, NALSA has the mandate for initiating social justice litigation for protection of environment and the rights of the weaker sections, consumer protection, etc.

It filed a social justice litigation petition to protect the rights of Vrindavan widows. The Supreme Court has already passed orders constituting a committee to conduct an enumeration so that the widows will benefit from different laws and government schemes.

NALSA is about to file a writ petition to protect the legal rights of the transgender community.

Keywords: sand mining

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