NGT admits petition over illegal mining

Southern bench of the apex environmental tribunal issues notices to 13 respondents

April 21, 2022 11:41 pm | Updated 11:55 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Stone crushing operations in full swing in Odyaram village of Karimnagar district.

Stone crushing operations in full swing in Odyaram village of Karimnagar district. | Photo Credit: File photo

The National Green Tribunal has reportedly admitted a petition seeking directions with regard to the alleged illegal mining of coloured granite, stone crushing and stone polishing industries and the pollution caused by them in the villages of the joint Karimnagar district.

The southern bench of the apex environmental tribunal also issued notices to a total 13 respondents, including Union Ministry of Environment & Forests, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, State Mining authorities, State Pollution Control Board, Agriculture, Health departments and district administration, apart from granite mining companies.

The petitioner, social activist and state BJP leader Perala Shekhar Rao, contended that about 1000 mines are being legally/illegally operated in the area. They were permitted during the undivided State of Andhra Pradesh without any cumulative environmental or social impact assessment, and are continuing to operate after formation of Telangana as separate State.

Over a lakh residents from 447 villages such as Sarvareddypalli, Odyaram, Nagulamalyal, Molungur, Kothagattu, Kamalpur, Gattugutkur, Asif Nagar, Amudalapalli, Polampalli, Challur, Shayampet, Annaram, Lalitapur, Chenjarla, Chigurumamidi, and Akunuru villages in the district are severely affected by the powerful explosions, dumping of slime, unfilled pits and other issues related to mining, as the excavation is very close to habitations and fertile agricultural lands in violation of the guidelines of the Pollution Control Board.

During the joint State, a penalty of ₹750 crore was imposed on the violators, but the Telangana government has cut down the penalty substantially, the petition said.

Apart from the noise and air pollution and severe health issues, the blasting is affecting livelihoods by causing loss or reduction in agricultural yield. Dwellings damaged due to vibrations, damaged roads, waste dumped in private lands, and evasion of royalty are a few other issues presented by the petitioner.

Further, wild fauna such as bear, deer, and leopards are entering human habitation due to noise pollution and altered integrity of the hilly natural environment.

The District Mineral Foundation Trust of Karimnagar has not spend even a single rupee for preservation of environment and pollution control measures in the affected areas. Several complaints to Central and State government agencies have not yielded results on the ground, the petition said.

The applicant has prayed for appointment of an independent expert committee to ascertain the ground level situation in the coloured granite mining, stone polishing and crushing activities, issue directions for official action and declaration of 300 hectares of area near Saidapur as wildlife sanctuary, and directions for implementation of Environment Management Plan in all the mines, including the closed ones.

He also sought directions for official assessment of loss caused to health, agriculture and ground water due to the unregulated mining activities, and mitigation measures.

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