Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal sand mining in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, 06/02/2023
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of In re: News item published in The Hindu dated 27.03.2022 titled “Digging up the Chambal” dated 06/02/2023.
The matter was taken up on the basis of a media report to the effect that illegal mining was taking place in the periphery of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan near Dholpur, close to National Chambal Sanctuary which was habitat of rare species of animals particularly Gharial, roofed turtles and also river dolphins. Such illegal mining is not confined to areas in Rajasthan but is much more in adjoining areas of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Such illegal and unscientific mining was resulting in pollution in the area, adversely affecting the environment and wildlife.
A Joint Committee report, July 14, 2022 said illegal sand mining was taking place continuously on the bank of Chambal river not only in Rajasthan but also in Madhya Pradesh and some areas of Uttar Pradesh. The report stated that sand mafias were using interior routes for conducting illegal mining in the national park.
The NGT, September 21, 2022 had directed for remedial action to be taken to be overseen by Additional Chief Secretaries, Mining and Environment Departments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in their respective jurisdictions.
The bench comprising Chairperson of the NGT, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi said that the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have failed to show seriousness to handle the situation.
Affidavit filed and interaction with the officers present before the Tribunal shows that no serious plan has been prepared.
Report of the Collector, Dholpur shows that on January 1, 2023, ACS mining, Rajasthan visited the site with other officers and noted that 40-50 tractors were coming from Morena district, Madhya Pradesh towards Chambal river, full of mined material. They were moving freely and transporting illegally mined material without any fear of law.
"While law violations are rampant, action taken reported is 12 persons arrested in Rajasthan and 4 in MP in the last one year. In MP, 40 vehicles were seized and fine of Rs. 97 lakhs recovered from the violators." said the NGT order, February 6, 2023.
The NGT directed the Chief Secretaries of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to take stock of the situation within one month in a joint meeting. Monitoring on the subject needs to be undertaken by Superintendents of Police and District Magistrates of Bhind, Morena and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Agra, Etawah and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh and Dholpur and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.
Apart from monitoring at district level, monitoring is also required at state level the court added. Action taken reports have to be filed by the three states by March 31, 2023, the NGT order said.