The Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has set up a committee to examine the allegations of rampant illegal sand mining in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Budh Nagar and assess its impact on environment.

The three-member committee to be headed by Dr Saroj, Director in the MoEF, will also comprise G C Meena, Deputy Collector of Mines at the Dehradun-based Indian Bureau of Mines, and K K Garg, Director of the MoEF’s regional office in Lucknow. It has to submit report by September 9, 2013.

The UP government recently suspended 2010-batch IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who cracked down on sand mafia, for allegedly ordering the demolition of a mosque wall. The move led to a full-blown State-Centre spat with the Centre seeking a report from the UP government on the suspension.

“The past few days, media reports have been highlighting the menace of alleged illegal sand mining in Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh. Illegal mining has serious environmental and ecological repercussions. With a view to inquire into the allegations of illegal sand mining widely reported in the electronic media as well as the print media, with visuals of heavy machinery being used in illegal sand mining in Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, in order to ascertain the factual position and with a view to suggest further course of action in the matter, MoEF hereby constitutes the committee,” an office order issued by the ministry on August 6 says.

The order points out that following an apex court order dated February 27, 2012, State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs) are to address the issue of environmental clearance to mining of minor minerals, including sand, in a lease area up to 5 hectares.

Mining of minor minerals in 5-50 hectares was already being considered by SEIAAs. Only mining in 50 hectares or above is dealt with by the MoEF.

Courtesy: The Indian Express