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Digging of earth for brick making banned

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Tribunal restrains States from permitting such digging without environment clearance

Labourers engaged in brick-making at a kiln in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh.Photo: Ramesh Sharma
Labourers engaged in brick-making at a kiln in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh.Photo: Ramesh Sharma

In a blow to the brick kiln industry and road contractors, the National Green Tribunal has banned digging of earth across the country for making bricks and laying roads without prior environment clearance.

A Bench headed by Justice P. Jyothimani has directed the Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories to ensure that its interim order is adhered to.

“We restrain any person, company and authority from carrying out any such digging activity of brick earth or ordinary earth with respective to the directives issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests [MoEF] of June 24, 2013, in any part of the country without obtaining environment clearance from the competent authority.

“The Chief Secretaries of all States/Union Territories are to ensure strict adherence to this order,” it said.

The tribunal issued notices to Uttar Pradesh seeking its response on the plea for directions to the State government to stop extraction of earth for making bricks and laying roads, which is allegedly going on in violation of a Supreme Court decision as well as directions of the MoEF to all the States.

“Considering the seriousness of the issue,” the Bench restrained the U.P. Government from permitting such digging until further orders of the tribunal.

The NGT made the order applicable to all the States saying “as the judgment of the apex court as well as the directives issued by the MoEF has got the effect and applicability throughout the territory of India, ... what is applicable to respondents [U.P. Government] by our interim order is applicable to all the other States and UTs also.”

The ban on brick earth mining comes one-and-a-half months after the NGT banned sand mining at river beds without environment clearance.

As per the petition, the MoEF, in its office memorandum to the States, had directed that digging of earth for making bricks and laying roads requires environment clearance from a competent authority.

The petition has alleged that in spite of the decision of the apex court and the directives of the MoEF, the U.P. Government has not framed rules/guidelines for obtaining environment clearance and are allowing indiscriminate digging of earth.

— PTI

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