NGT Bars Pvt Firm From Mining In Central Kashmir Stream

NGT Bars Pvt Firm From Mining In Central Kashmir Stream

Srinagar- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has restrained a private company from carrying out any mining activities in Shaliganga stream in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir.

In an order pronounced on Wednesday, the NGT directed the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board (PCB) and the District Magistrate Budgam to ensure compliance of its directions.

The NGT order came after hearing an appeal by activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat, challenging the environmental clearances for mining in the Shaliganga nalah in the central Kashmir district.

Setting aside the environmental clearances (ECs), the tribunal said the company — NKC Projects Pvt Ltd — “is restrained from carrying on any mining activities pursuant to impugned ECs”.

“J-K PCB and District Magistrate Budgam shall ensure compliance of this direction. J-K PCB shall also comply with the directions issued with regard to determination of environmental compensation,” the tribunal ruled.

It said the company in its reply on July 29 has stated it has used JCBs and loaders only for the purpose of approach making since big sized boulders were lying in the approach which could not be removed manually.

The company also stated that the JCBs and loaders were used for the loading of mined minerals on the dumpers/trucks since loading of big sized boulders manually was also not feasible.

“The stand taken by project proponent (PP) is an admission of use of heavy machines for excavation. Once it is admitted that the boulders were such big sized, not capable of removal or uploading without use of heavy machines like JCBs etc., it is difficult to conceive that the same could have been be mined without use of heavy machines,” the tribunal said.

It said when questioned from the learned counsel for project proponent that if mined boulders were so big sized that the same could not be loaded on the dumpers/trucks manually, how such boulders could have been mined from the mining area without use of such machines, “we did not receive any satisfactory reply”.

“And it is said that whatever is/was the factual position that has been stated in the reply of PP,” the order said.

Stating that the statutory procedure has not been followed by State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), J-K, while granting prior environmental clearances in letter and spirit though the provisions are mandatory particularly having direct impact upon environment, the tribunal asserted that sand mining in river bed has serious consequences.

When contacted, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat who has filed the appeal before NGT against the Environmental Clearance (EC) given to NKC Projects said that he is happy that rule of law has prevailed.

“I urge the Pollution Control Committee (PCB) and District Magistrate Budgam to implement the judgement in letter and spirit. The DC Budgam must also ensure no JCBs are used for riverbed mining in Doodh Ganga mining blocks 11 and 12 and illegal mining should be stopped in other rivers and streams of J&K “said Dr Raja Muzaffar.

in para 19, Court has observed:It is the duty cast upon the State to restore the ecological imbalance and to stop damages being caused to the nature. As observed by this Court in the case of Sanjay (supra), excessive in stream sand-and-gravel mining from riverbeds and like resources causes the degradation of rivers. It is further observed that apart from threatening bridges, sand mining transforms the riverbeds into large and deep pits, as a result, the groundwater table drops leaving the drinking water wells on the embankments of these rivers dry. Even otherwise, sand/mines is a public property and the State is the custodian of the said public property and therefore the State should be more sensitive to protect the environment and ecological balance and to protect the public property the State should always be in favour of taking very stern action against the violators who are creating serious ecological imbalance and causing damages to the nature in any form. As the provisions of Section 23-A are not under challenge and Section 23-A of the MMDR Act so long as it stands, we leave the matter there and leave it to the wisdom of the legislatures and the States concerned.”

Pertinently NGT had earlier stayed the mining work in an interim order issued on August 13th this year. The company had in fact went to the Supreme Court challenging the NGT’s interim order but the company didn’t get any relief from the apex court during the last three hearings. (With PTI inputs)

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