The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has constituted a Joint Committee to probe whether any illegal beach sand mining was being done at the eco-sensitive zone in the mouth of Cooum river near Napier Bridge in Chennai, and to inspect the area during different times to ascertain if any illegal activities was going on.
The Bench issued the directions on an application filed by Selvaraj Kumar, based on a media report which stated that beach sand was being illegally mined from Marina beach at Napier Bridge, and tipper lorries were being used to carry sand from the river mouth.
Counsel for the State government opposed the applicant’s submissions, saying the allegation was mala fide . The counsel submitted that the government was very serious about protecting the environment, and no activity affecting the environment would be encouraged. The Tribunal, however, constituted a Joint Committee to ascertain whether any illegal mining is being done in the eco-sensitive zone, if any heavy vehicles, like excavators, earth removers and others, were being used for sea mining, even if by authorities. The NGT directed the authorities to seize the vehicles if they are parked in the eco-sensitive zone or impose appropriate penalties.
The Bench said even if any permitted activity was being carried out, the Committee should look at whether it was being done after obtaining necessary permissions and clearances as per guidelines. It has been directed to assess the environmental damage and compensation to be levied in case of violations.
“The Committee members are directed to inspect the area during different times on various days as surprise inspections so as to ascertain the allegedly ongoing illegal activities. According to the allegation, illegal mining is being done during night time,” the Bench said.