Green Tribunal seeks report on illegal mining in Visakhapatnam

Representational image of illegal mining.

Representational image of illegal mining. | Photo Credit: Uppu Damodar

The Southern Zonal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the Director of Mines and Geology of Andhra Pradesh to submit a report on illegal mining projects in Visakhapatnam district containing details of the quantity mined, the impact on environment and the compensation payable by the companies towards remediation. 

NGT judicial member Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member K. Satyagopal stated in their interim order that there were about 10 illegal mining projects, including two projects of Navayuga Engineering and Madhava Projects, that were in operation between 2006 and 2017. 

The NGT was hearing a petition filed by P. Eswara Rao of Visakhapatnam district, who was represented by advocate Sravan Kumar. The case has been posted to July 7 for further proceedings. 

The NGT said in each of those projects, the Department of Mines and Geology (DoM&G) did not receive any orders regarding the issuance of environmental clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) 

Permits issued without environmental clearances

The DoM&G has been issuing dispatch permits up to April 4, 2021, in the absence of environmental clearances. A few leaseholders applied to the SEIAA online (for clearances) only in 2021-2022.

The tribunal questioned how dispatch permits were issued without having necessary clearances and observed that there seemed to be some mischief played by the leaseholders as per a report of the Deputy Director of Mines and Geology, Visakhapatnam.

Further, the NGT said it was surprised to see the report which stated that the DoM&G is basically a revenue-earning department that contributes 15% to the GSDP and it was in order to augment the mineral revenue, in the absence of specific instructions from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, SEIAA and AP Pollution Control Board with regard to stoppage of the mining operations, that mineral dispatch permits were issued.

Industry will be affected: DoM&G

The DoM&G had permitted the dispatch of whatever was mined till date, the report said and it pointed out that the industry would be affected badly if the issuance of permits are stopped.

The NGT said it is shocking that the DoM&G openly stated that ‘the illegal activity can be encouraged as it will only augment income to the State exchequer’. It ordered that the DoM&G explain how it allowed the mining activity in spite of being aware of the fact that permitting such activity is illegal.

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Printable version | Jun 26, 2022 12:37:47 pm |