Joint committee report on silica sand washing plant, Prayagraj district, Uttar Pradesh, 03/02/2023

  • 03/02/2023

Joint Committee report in reference to the National Green Tribunal order of August 1, 2022 in the matter of Original Application No. 203/2021 (Devidas Khatri Vs Union of India).

The matter related to silica sand mining in district Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh.

As per information provided by the Regional Officer, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), a total of 42 consent to operate has been granted for silica sand washing plant in Lalapur, Bankipur, Janwa, Kaitha, Lakhnauti and Pratappur area of the Shankargarh block, tehsil Bara, district Prayagraj.

As per the information provided by the District Mining Officer, only 7 mining lease of silica sand mining have been granted in the district Prayagraj with total capacity of the mining at 5,86,160 TPA (48,846 tonn per month), whereas, a total 42 washing plant has been granted CTO which has a total capacity of 49,375 tonn per month.

Type of mining in Prayagraj district is small-scale cluster type of mining. In almost all cases, mining uses open pit or dredging mining methods with standard mining equipment.

The UPPCB was requested to ask the washing units to ensure their operations during the vist of committee. However, only a few washing plants were found operational during the two visits of the committee. Similarly, no concerned persons were available at the site of these washing units to explain about working mechanism, material balance, wastewater management and compliance in accordance with the statutory requirements. Due to which, committee felt difficult in assessing the actual working mechanism and wastewater management through these washing plants.

The committee observed that the majority of washing plant having two or three washing units in same premise, out of all various washing plant are under running condition, whereas they have obtained consent to operate (CTO) for only one washing plant. The borewell is the primary source of the water supply in these washing units. The UPPCB informed that the consent was issued to these units only after ensuring availability of the NOC from CGWA/CGWB for groundwater withdrawal.

Gravity settling pits/concrete tanks are the only wastewater treatment pits provided by these washing units. These settling pits are constructed below the ground surface and mostly found filled with the mud. Further, the mechanical sludge removal system is not provided in these settling pits. The settled slude is removed manually through the pocland machine during which the possibility of damage to these settling tanks cannot be ruled out.

The mineral stock in some washing plant area is much higher than the mineral excavated from their own lease - this shows irregular mining in the area in question.