The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has quashed a 2016 Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) amendment, that had constituted district-level EIA authorities along with expert appraisal committees for sand mining, stating that it was not in consonance with previous judgments of the Supreme Court.
A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “We direct that the procedure laid down in the impugned notification be brought in consonance and in accord with the directions passed [of the SC] by providing for EIA, EMP and public consultation for all areas from 5 to 25 hectares…by State Environment Impact Assessment Authority [SEIAA] as well as for cluster situation wherever it is not provided.”
The petitioners had alleged that the 2016 notification provided an exemption of the “rigours of the necessity of EIA and EMP” for areas ranging from 5 to 25 hectares which previous notifications made necessary.
“The crux of the applicant is that while in [previous SC judgments] it had been held that all mining leases in respect of its size would require to obtain environmental clearance and be subjected to strict regulatory framework as that of all major minerals, the impugned 2016 notification, exempts the necessity of having EIA and public consultation for areas up to 25 hectares,” the Bench noted in its judgment. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has been directed to prepare guidelines for calculating the cost of restitution of damage caused to mined-out.