The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Thursday sought a response from the Gujarat government on a plea,alleging illegal mining going in the state in brazen violation of the Supreme Court and NGTs directions.
A five-member bench,headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar,issued a notice to Gujarat government and sought its reply by September 26.
The order came on a petition filed by Haryana-based agriculturist Virender Singh Choudhary,who alleged the state has granted contracts permitting removal of sand upto a depth of 10 meters from river beds as against the three meter or water level depth recommended by the apex court.
Advocate Anand Verma,appearing for Choudhary,contended the state government has allowed mining operations to be carried on without the licensees/contractors having obtained environmental clearance in violation of the Tribunals August 5 order banning mining across the country without clearances. The petition alleged since Gujarat government granted the contracts despite being aware of the apex court and the Tribunals orders,it is complicit in the violation of the judgment and the recommendations.
The petition sought directions to the state to prohibit with immediate effect any mining,river bed or otherwise,of minor minerals,including sand,in any manner without following the procedure established by law. It also sought that the contracts granted by the state for carrying out sand mining be declared void and that removal of sand be restricted to three meter or water level depth,whichever is less.
Verma submitted before the bench that the state granted contracts for sand mining on river bed of Sabarmati on auction basis to extract the mineral from upto a depth of 10 meters in two to three phases.
The said contracts permit mining in a manner which is completely contrary to the Environment and Forests Ministrys recommendations, he said.
The petition submitted the continuance of mining operations beyond three meter/water level has deleterious implications on the hydrological regime of the Sabarmati and will adversely affect the availability of water as a resource as well as its quality.