NGT Directs Rajasthan Chief Secy to Circulate Guidelines on Mining at Grassroot Level
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Illegal mining remains a challenge and poses serious threat to the protection of environment, the National Green Tribunal said on Thursday, directing Rajasthan’s Chief Secretary to circulate guidelines on the issue at grass root level.
The action taken so far to stop illegal mining in the area around Jaisamand lake at Udaipur is inadequate and has not resulted in meaningful enforcement of law, the NGT said.
It is well acknowledged that illegal mining remains a serious challenge and poses serious threat to the protection of environment which is basic right of the citizens and against the concept of sustainable development, said a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel. The NGT said it was not clear whether its direction asking Chief Secretaries to set up environmental cell directly under them has been implemented or not.
It is not clear whether this is happening in the State of Rajasthan and whether remedial action against illegal mining is being monitored by the District Magistrates at district level and the Chief Secretary at the State level. If not, it needs to be done. In the report of the IG or other Departments of Rajasthan, there is no reference to such monitoring. The concerned officers dealing with the enforcement of law do not appear to be aware of significant orders of this Tribunal which is first step for enforcement, the bench said.
The bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, directed the Chief Secretary to consider appropriate course of action in light of various orders passed by the tribunal and circulate appropriate guidelines at grass root level, particularly the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police. Electronic Surveillance System said to have been introduced may be reviewed, including requirement of GPS for the vehicles used in transportation and mined materials, CCTV cameras at the hotspots, an App which can be used by any complainant for giving information about illegal activities of this nature and methodology for assessment and recovery of compensation.
The mechanism can function preferably under the District Magistrate, with suitable involvement of Mining and Forest Departments and wherever necessary, of the Superintendent of Police and the representative of the State PCB. A grievance redressal portal may be set up at district level. Such mechanism needs to be reviewed from time to time. As already directed, the Chief Secretary may have Environmental Cell directly attached to his Office who may constantly monitor compliance of environmental norms, the bench said.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Nanga Ram Dangi alleging illegal mining in the area around Jaisamand lake at Udaipur in Rajasthan. The application was filed in the year 2014 with the grievance that by illegal mining, serious damage is caused to the ecology.
Illegal mining is happening in eight villages which form the catchment area of the lake — Buthel, Bassa, Charmar, Kot, Kharka, Kenpura, Lodha and Utharda, the plea said. The applicant mentioned that a large number of cases of illegal mining have been registered which itself shows that the practice is rampant, and mere registration of cases has not brought about the desired result.
The applicant also referred to the order of the Rajasthan High Court dated October 21, 2013 to make Jaisamand Lake area free of mining operations and it was alleged that the concerned Departments were not vigilant enough on account of which the mining continued.