Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of illegal mining and transportation of in the Bandh Baretha Wildlife Sanctuary, 07/03/2024

  • 07/03/2024

Chief Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of Forest of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh was directed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to independently inquire the matter of corruption with regard to the connivance of the local officers in illegal mining and transportation of in the Bandh Baretha Wildlife Sanctuary.

The sanctuary is located 45 km from Bharatpur Rajasthan and 76 km from Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh. Illegal mining is causing great damage to the environment as well as the loss of the state exchequer damaging the road inside the sanctuary, breaking the boundary wall, cutting of trees and using DG set for power supply within the prohibited, regulated area, use of heavy machines, cranes for lifting of the mines operated and a huge number of trucks for transportation of the stone blocks.

The court noted that the authorities have confirmed that illegal mining was taking place at large scale without any environmental clearance under the Environment Act, 1986 or consent under the Water Act, 1974 or the Air Act, 1981. Sustainable Sand Mining and Management Guidelines, 2016 were also not being followed. There was an adverse impact on the ecology. No Management Plan was prepared for replenishment of preventive steps.

The central bench of the NGT suggested that the that the Chief Secretary and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest should nominate two independent departmental higher officers to investigate the matter and to take action against the defaulting officials and to check and control the illegal mining and to realize the loss which was caused by the mining operators to the state exchequer. Penalty as provided in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and the environmental compensation as provided by the CPCB must be assessed and realised from the defaulting units, the order said.

Further, the vehicles which were used or which are being used for the transportation of the illegal mining should be confiscated, seized in accordance with law and should only be released after payment of penalty / environmental compensation decided by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) or the NGT in different cases.

Directions were also given to send the copy of the NGT order to the Chief Secretary, Rajasthan, Chief Secretary Uttar Pradesh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and Member Secretary, Pollution Control Board, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for taking necessary actions according to rules. The further action taken report has to be filed within four weeks and the next hearing of the case was listed for April 22, 2024.