An additional report filed by a joint inspection team of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on May 11 said that the governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh ignored the guidelines on de-silting activities while carrying on sand mining in the submergence areas of rivers Manair, Mohitummeda and Godavari. The next hearing of the case is scheduled on May 23.
In April, the Tribunal had directed CPCB to inspect riverbeds in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and clarify whether sand mining was being carried out in the name of de-silting.
A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim sought a comprehensive report within two weeks, saying whether de-silting was essential for the area or not. It also asked whether the contentions of the two States that such activity cannot be undertaken manually but has to be mechanically done is acceptable. The green panel’s direction had come while hearing a plea by NGO Readiness for Empowerment through Legitimate Action (RELA) and Polavaram Mandal ex-president Vara Laxmi seeking directions to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odissa and Maharashtra governments to ban illegal sand mining.
The petitioners had raised concern regarding sand mining in major rivers like Krishna, Godavari, Vamsadhara, Penna and Pranahita as well as their tributaries. In its report on the activities in the State of Telangana the team has observed that the excavation of sand is carried out in hundreds of hectares and hundreds of vehicles including procliners, tractors and trucks. It said as per a Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) de-silting of dams, reservoirs, weirs, barrages, river, and canals for the purpose of their maintenance, upkeep and disaster management are exempted from the requirement of obtaining prior environmental clearance. “But, the area of activity involved in the submergence of reservoirs/barrages in TS is hundreds of hectares and the quantity of sand accumulated is huge.”