Sand extracted from rivers in CRZ cannot be sold: NGT

The National Green Tribunal has said that only traditional methods of sand extraction using dinghy boats can be carried out in rivers under CRZ.

The National Green Tribunal has said that only traditional methods of sand extraction using dinghy boats can be carried out in rivers under CRZ. | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday ordered that sand removed from sand bars of rivers in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) should not be sold. At the most, it can be used for levelling low-lying areas of the river bed, sand nourishment in beaches and strengthening of river bunds.

NGT’s Southern Bench in Chennai said that the State Government’s practice of collecting nominal amount from permit holders and allowing them to sell sand outside is tantamount to mining sand that has been prohibited under the CRZ notification. “This practice should be stopped forthwith,” said the Bench comprising Judicial Member K. Ramakrishnan and Expert Member Satyagopal Korlapati E.M.

The Bench further said that sand extraction should be carried out only by permit holders or members of their families strictly using traditional methods. There should not be any subcontract or deployment of external labour, it said. The total quantum of sand extracted so far circumventing the CRZ notification indicates that it is humanly impossible to remove that much sand using traditional methods.

The indirect complete ban order on CRZ sand extraction has been passed in an Original Application 252/2017 by Udaya Suvarna of Bhadragiri in Brahmavar taluk and Dinesh Kunder of Kallianapura, Udupi taluk, in Udupi district. The applicants said that the Udupi district administration did not follow the NGT order of February 27, 2017, passed on their application in regulating the number of sand permits and containing unbridled damage to environment.

They said that 170 sand extraction permits for 28 sand bars in the Sowparnika, the Varahi, the Papanashini, the Swarna, the Seetha and the Yedamavina Hole rivers had been issued. Sand removal till river-bed, excessive extraction, deployment of machinery for extraction and employing migrant labour were being done by permit holders in violation of NGT order and the norms of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the applicants said.

Irreparable damage

Stating that the tribunal cannot monitor the situation perpetually, the Bench said that if government agencies do not take proactive action to protect natural resources, it will cause irreparable degradation of riverine and coastal ecology affecting flora and fauna in the region.

The tribunal also directed the Stat Government and the Udupi district administration to conduct an independent study of the breadth of the river and sand bar before allowing sand extraction for safe navigation of fishing boats. Permission can be granted only if fishing boats are operated in the region, it said, asking the State Government to get fishing boats operating in such rivers registered with it. The applicants had argued that no fishing boat operated in these regions and even if it operated, removal of the entire sand bar was not essential for its navigation.

All earlier NGT orders and the Ministry notification should be strictly followed, the tribunal said.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2022 7:44:20 am |