Observing that stone crushers cause huge pollution and such unscientific mining degrades the environment, the National Green Tribunal Friday formed a committee to look into a plea against their operation in Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel constituted a joint Committee of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), state PCB and District Magistrate, Rajouri, to look into the grievances and ascertain the extent of non-compliances.
The bench said: It is well known that stone crushers have potential for huge pollution and unscientific mining for such stone crushers further degrades the environment. Statutory safeguards under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 need to be followed and monitored by the statutory regulators. Violations, being criminal offence under the law, there is need to take preventive and remedial action, including recovery of compensation on ‘Polluter Pays’ principle for the past violations till illegal activities are stopped.
The NGT said that based on verification by committee, the statutory regulators may take action to prevent further damage to the environment and assess and recover compensation for the past violations. The compensation may cover not only the cost of mined material but also the cost of restoration and ecological services forgone forever, with element of deterrence. The guidelines laid down by the CPCB in this regard may be followed, the bench said.
Factual and action taken report in the matter may be furnished to this Tribunal before November 10, the next date of hearing by e-mail, the NGT said. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by village sarpanch Arti Sharma against operation of stone crushers by M/s Diamond Stone Crusher, VPO Saranoo Tehsil, District Rajouri, J&K and M/s Shankar Stone Crusher, VPO Saranoo Tehsil, District Rajouri, J&K, in violation of environmental norms.
According to the applicant, the said stone crushers are located close to residential area and Tawi river. Illegal borewells have been dug for extraction of ground water. Requisite Environmental Clearance has not been taken. Illegal mining is also done on the bank of Tawi River, using heavy machinery. Air pollution is caused by using vehicles for transportation. This is resulting in lowering of the water level, water scarcity, decreasing agriculture productivity, loss of biodiversity, land degradation, soil erosion, unproductive waste lands, noise pollution, dust pollution, water pollution, loss of habitat of flora and fauna, the plea said.
The stone crushers have not installed requisite pollution control equipments nor created requisite green belts nor adopted other safeguards, the plea said.