September 12, 2020 3:07:53 pm
Taking serious note of the illegal mining in Punjab, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has prohibited mining activities 1 km from the National Highways and half km from State Highways in Punjab.
The court has also directed DCs and SSPs of three Punjab districts to constitute special flying squads to check illegal mining in the state within two weeks and submit a status report on or before September 30.
The directions were issued by the division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu on Friday while hearing a civil writ petition filed by Bakshish Singh, who pointed out before HC that large scale illegal mining activities were being carried out in villages and on bed of river Sutlej.
Singh’s counsel, Advocate Lakhwinder Singh Mann, submitted that heavy mining has changed the course of the river at few places resulting in flooding. He added that heavy machinery was deployed to excavate sand from the river bed, and authorities had not taken any action on the representations made by the petitioner to check illegal mining.
After listening to the submissions, the High Court bench directed the SSPs of Nawanshahr, Jalandhar and Ludhiana to ensure that no illegal mining takes place in their jurisdiction. The HC also prohibited the deployment of heavy machinery like JCB etc. for extraction of sand and gravel from river beds, and restricting mining depth up to three meters in river beds.
The court also directed the Punjab government to take stern action against erring officials who have failed to check illegal mining.
“Excessive extraction of minerals poses grave threat to the bridges/National Highways, State Highways. Mining activities 1 km from major bridges, and half km from small bridges upstream and down-stream is prohibited. Similarly, no mining activities shall take place 1 km from the National Highways and half km from State Highways in the state of Punjab. The rivers have inherent right to flow without hindrance,” ruled the HC in its order.
Apart from this, the HC also directed the DCs and SSPs to constitute special flying squads in order to check the illegal mining activities in the state within two weeks which should comprise of officials from mining department, revenue as well as police department.
The HC bench ordered that the state machinery should also use drones to check the illegal mining and also carry out river audit including replenishment study within six months.
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