Bench orders notices to Central and State government authorities

Environmental clearances granted last year to Public Works Department for sand quarrying in 21 places on the river beds of Coleroon and Cauvery are now under the scrutiny of the National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench here.

Farmers associations such as Kollidam Aaru Pathukappu Nala Sangam and Somaswarapuram Vivsayikal Nala Pathukappu Sangam have filed their appeals challenging the decision of the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to issue environmental clearance to the PWD for sand quarrying on the river beds.

The Bench, comprising Justice P. Jyothimani and Prof. R. Nagendran, admitted the farmers’ appeals and ordered notices to the Central and State government authorities including the PWD.

According to the appellants, the clearances were issued in 2012 by the SEIAA for sand quarrying in four places in Thanjavur district; 11 in Tiruchi district; three in Namakkal; two in Karur and one in Nagapattinam.

As per the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification issued by the Union government in 2006, the PWD ought to have obtained the EC from the SEIAA after conducting public hearing. In the present case, the impugned clearance was granted without consideration of any relevant factors and without considering the extent of the environmental damage.

They also alleged that the EC had been granted for an inflated quantity of sand, which would cause environmental degradation and irreparable damage to the river. Quarrying beyond the depth of one meter was in violation of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concessions Rules as well. The matter was posted for hearing on September 13.

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