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Updated: August 6, 2013 03:02 IST

No sand mining without Ministry’s approval, rules Green Tribunal

Special Correspondent
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Two persons collect sand in bags from Krishna river. National Green Tribunal on Monday 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. File photo
The Hindu
Two persons collect sand in bags from Krishna river. National Green Tribunal on Monday 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. File photo

Nationwide stay on sand mining comes on plea following Nagpal suspension

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday ordered a nationwide stay on sand mining on river beds without Environment Ministry clearance.

The interim order came on a petition filed by the NGT Bar Association as a reaction to the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who had been overseeing a drive against illegal sand mining in Gautam Budh Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh.

At the same time, the Ministry has decided to approach the Supreme Court to seek clarification on the process for according environmental clearances for minor mineral mining projects occupying less than five hectares, as well as send an inspection team to U.P. to look into illegal sand mining there.

The court had in February 2013 ordered mandatory green clearances from violation of the court orders, and that many junior government officers and activists fighting against the environmental menace were being targeted and victimised. The petition cited the cases of Ms. Nagpal and another person, who, it claimed, was recently killed by the sand mafia.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Raj Panjwani said in-stream mining of sand and gravel had a large impact on the floodplain as well as water table which was not being assessed at the moment.

On February 27, 2013, the court ordered mandatory environmental clearance from the Environment and Forests Ministry for excavation of all minor minerals. It said: “Sand mining on either side of the rivers, upstream and in-stream, is one of the causes for environmental degradation and also a threat to biodiversity. Over the years, India’s rivers and riparian ecology have been badly affected by the alarming rate of unrestricted sand mining … .”

The NGT decision on Monday does not go beyond the pronouncement of the Supreme Court orders but only pushes implementation of the orders.

The court order was opposed by many State governments with the construction industry lobbying hard against it.

This led to the Prime Minister’s Office intervening for brick kiln owners and the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure also debating the issue. States including Maharashtra wrote to the Centre asking for relief from the court order.

Ministry like to plead before court

The Environment Ministry, sources said, is likely to plead before the court to let State authorities give environmental clearance for less than 5-hectare plots.

The Ministry believes that instead of it itself dealing with thousands of clearances for small projects, it would be wiser to let the States handle them under strict guidelines laid down by the Centre.

The Ministry will also ask for a stipulation that miners should not seek clearances for a cluster of less than 5-hectare plots as that will add up to a large area.

With the construction sector booming in the country, the demand for sand has grown consistently over the past decade. According to the Indian Bureau of Mines Year Book for 2011, the States gave a figure of 49.97 lakh tonnes for sand mining, which, Environment Ministry officials said off the record, was gross under-reporting.

This was very much required.

from:  Deepak
Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 08:47 IST

Sir, now everybody is waking up for the illegal minining ,illegal sand mining for the
environment impact.junior officers and activists fighting against the environmental
menace and degradation is in wilderness all these days.successive governments in
any state are hand in glove with these mining mafias and so the looting is going on
without much protest.how much damage has done to the lives and environment is
anybody's guess. what can the ordinary man on the street now do except lament for
our so called netas and their missions? nobody of our forefathers imagined this kind
of petty and greedy leaders.

from:  kvl shanta
Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 08:46 IST

Lot of people have commented that Politicians are corrupt and criminals and responsible for most ills in India seen today. But these politicians have not come from outer space!. They are one among the many Indians itself. Maybe a small timecontractor , lawyer or petty thief with close contacts to some Ministers got a party ticket and become a MLA and then a Minister himself and started making money by taking bribes and others follow suit. Now the root cause of this is that , in India except for few percent of Highly educated middle class people who can get jobs by dint of their education and degrees, rest are finding very hard to make ends meet. So, among these, the poor resort to stealing natural resources like forest wealth,Sand (river beds), Iron Ore, Coal , Water (Tankers) , women trafficking and selling it to people who need them (middle class) and surviving. Some among them will join with Politicians & continue the loot. So, real problem is lack of jobs for uneducated Indians.

from:  jayaram
Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 02:34 IST

Now how are we supposed to build houses without sand? As it is sand is very expensive. If you feel the mining is illegal, make sure that it is easy to get sand legally. If planned well, sand mining can be a boon, we can make sure our lakes and rivers are dredged and desilted and deepened to store more water without any investment. All the government has to do is plan and supervise it. By banning a required commodity, you will only make the matters worse.

from:  P Kumar
Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 00:58 IST

Blanket ban on anything is bad..our duty is sustainable use of natural resources. both economic development and preservation of environment need to go hand in hand.one should not be sacrifice for others.

from:  Kenu
Posted on: Aug 5, 2013 at 22:55 IST

As I understand alternate technologies using steel frames and prefabricated structures be explored.Some time ago I read that Tata Steel has demonstrated technology to make a 10 storied multistoried residential building using not a single brick and cement!

from:  Atis
Posted on: Aug 5, 2013 at 20:45 IST

Welcome order, a bit late though.

from:  P Das
Posted on: Aug 5, 2013 at 20:13 IST

The whole thing shows you the depth of corruption in the country.
Is ther any one listening, I doubt.
Politicians and or greedy businessmen are destroying the country for their own benefit.

from:  Vijay Kumar
Posted on: Aug 5, 2013 at 19:36 IST

Courts will always pass the orders and the governments will always fly
the orders on air. First the governments should learn to respect the law
and orders. It is the Indian Politician's tradition.

from:  Prabu Rathan
Posted on: Aug 5, 2013 at 19:34 IST

Thank you Ms.Nagpal and Yadav clan. You have bought the lights and focus to an issue that remained dark these days.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Aug 5, 2013 at 17:32 IST
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