The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to “expeditiously” consider the mining plans submitted by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said that extraction of minerals like sand and gravel should be strictly carried out as per MoEF guidelines.
“Both the state governments have submitted their mining plans…. We direct Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to consider the approval of the plans while informing the officers from the Ministry of Mines. This must be done very expeditiously as this matter is very urgent in nature,” the bench said.
During the hearing, the MoEF told the green panel that they have filed an additional affidavit suggesting that UP government should be permitted to carry on the mining activity along with Haryana, subject to the guidelines. The matter is listed for hearing on August 17.
The directions came during hearing of a plea by environment activists Gurpreet Singh Bagga and others who had moved NGT against alleged rampant illegal mining of minor minerals in Saharanpur and the riverbed of Yamuna. According to the applicants, “a handful of mining lease holders were treating the entire district as mining area irrespective of what is mentioned in their mining permit and the environmental clearance”.
The NGT had earlier cracked the whip on illegal sand mining and extraction of minor minerals in Saharanpur district of UP while slapping a fine of Rs 50 crore on five lease holders for carrying out excessive unauthorised mining resulting in damage and degradation of environment.
The green panel had also prohibited stone crushers and mining of minor minerals like bajri (gravel) and boulders in Yamunanagar and Saharanpur districts and other villages situated on the floodplains of Yamuna.