The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought to know from the Centre whether the Indian Air Force (IAF) was protecting its land on the banks of river Yamuna, where the Tilpat station of Western Air Command is located, from illegal sand mining.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar posed the query on a plea alleging illegal mining on a defence land at the banks of river Yamuna in Faridabad and Noida. “The petitioner is concerned with Air Force land, which is to be preserved. It is a critical area. You need to act. You make sure that you protect it,” the bench said, and asked the Centre to tell it what steps they have taken to preserve it.
It also issued notice to the Ministry of Defence and IAF and asked them to file their counter affidavit within eight weeks. The court has listed the matter for further hearing on September 19.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Ashok Kumar, who claimed to be a whistle blower, and said illegal sand mining was going on at defence land situated at the Tilpat Ranges 1 and 2 on the banks of Yamuna in Faridabad (Haryana) and Noida, which falls in the Gautam Budh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh.
The petitioner said he has made representations to various authorities including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who forwarded it to the Ministry of Defence and to the Indian Air Force. He said the illegal activities caused loss of over Rs 29 crore to the exchequer.
The plea also sought a direction to the CBI to enquire into serious offences of corrupt practices in compliance with a letter issued by the Prime Minister’s Office in October 2016. It said the whistleblower had earlier filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the illegal mining activities of sand mafias on the defence land and the tribunal had in 2013 prohibited mining activity which was being carried out in Faridabad.
He had earlier also approached the high court seeking his relocation to the national capital from Haryana where he was allegedly facing threat to his life for raising the issue of illegal sand mining.