The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday restrained sand mining from riverbeds across the country if there is no licence or environmental clearance for undertaking the same.

This is significant in light of the recent suspension of Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal by the State government and later the slapping of charges against her.

The NGT passed the orders on a petition filed by the National Green Tribunal Bar Association, which alleged that such mining activities have been going on in Uttar Pradesh with the “willful connivance” of the State machinery.

Senior advocate Raj Panjwani and advocate Ritwick Dutta, appearing for the Bar Association, told the NGT Bench that “rampant” illegal mining and transport of lakhs of tonnes of sand are being carried out every year and that it was causing a loss of crores of rupees to the exchequer. Initially, the Bench restrained illegal sand mining on the beds and banks of rivers Yamuna, Ganga, Hindon, Chambal, Gomti, among others, but later widened the scope of the petition saying that its order would be applicable across the country as the petition raises substantial environmental issues. Removing sand illegally has nationwide implications, the Bench said.

The petition alleged that recently a person who raised his voice against the “powerful sand mafia” was killed in his home in daylight.

It further alleged that the “Uttar Pradesh State authorities have failed and/or have intentionally not taken appropriate legal action against the project proponents (those carrying out mining) and thus have abetted and wilfully connived in allowing such illegal sand mining to take place in complete violation of environmental and other applicable laws.”

“The sand mining is adversely affecting the ecosystem and the ecology of the area,” the petition added.

Courtesy: The Indian Express