The Supreme Court on Friday asked the National Green Tribunal to consider within a week the plea of Madhya Pradesh government seeking modification of its order putting a blanket ban on sand mining without any licence or environmental clearance from river beds across the country.

The appeal filed through the state Chief Secretary submitted that the NGT’s August 5 order was affecting the construction industry as the district authority which is entitled to permit sand mining in less than five hectare of area has been left with no option.

A bench of justices A.K. Patnaik and J.S. Khehar considered the state’s plea that under the MP Minor Minerals Rules, 1996, framed under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act for regulating the mining of minor minerals, the district administration can allow sand mining on land measuring less than five hectares.

The bench passed the order to hear the plea within a week after the state government said that NGT has given a long time for hearing its application for modification of its order and it will affect the construction industry which had virtually come to a stand still.

“We request NGT to take up the application and pass order in accordance with the law within a week from today,” the bench said.

The NGT on August 5 had restrained sand mining without any licence or environmental clearance from river beds across the country on a plea alleging that such activities were going on in UP with the “wilful connivance” of its state machinery.

Widening the ambit of the plea, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had said its order would be applicable across the nation as the petition raises substantial environmental issues.

Initially, the NGT had restrained illegal sand mining on the beds and banks of rivers Yamuna, Ganga, Hindon, Chambal, Gomti, among others, but later modified its order saying the issue of illegally removing sand has nationwide implications.

The tribunal had also directed all the mining officers and police officers concerned of all the states to ensure compliance of its orders, on the plea filed by the National Green Tribunal Bar Association.

It also issued notice to all respondents seeking their response by August 14, the date on which the parties had sought more time to file their responses and the NGT had banned beach sand mineral mining in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The NGT Bar Association had contended that according to an apex court ruling, any person carrying on sand mining on land which is less than five hectares, requires clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests or the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority.

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