Two days after it set up a three-member committee to inquire into the issue of illegal sand mining in Gautam Budh Nagar, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has found “rampant, unscientific and illegal” mining along the Yamuna river in Uttar Pradesh.
“Rampant, unscientific and illegal mining has been going on at various locations in Gautam Budh Nagar district along the Yamuna river. These mines were operating in the past without seeking environmental clearance from MoEF/State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and no consent to operate from the UP State Pollution Control Board,” the panel said in its report, submitted on Saturday. The report added, “These operations were in violation of the environmental regulations, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and the directions given by the Supreme Court, High Court of Allahabad and NGT, New Delhi.”
The report noted, “At this site, deep excavated areas were noticed along the bank of Yamuna river, indicating lifting of sand. The path towards the bank had impressions of movement of heavy vehicles.”
The committee was constituted more than a week after IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal cracked down on illegal sand mining mafia in UP, and was subsequently suspended.
On August 5, the National Green Tribunal had passed an order, saying: “We restrain any person, company or authority to carry out any mining activity or removal of sand from river beds anywhere in the country without obtaining environmental clearance from MoEF/SEIAA and licence from competent authorities.”
The MoEF panel has recommended that in the case of mining leases for riverbed sand mining, specific river stretches should be identified and mining permits or lease should be granted stretch-wise, so that the requisite safeguard measures are duly implemented and effectively monitored by the respective regulatory authorities.
“The depth of mining may be restricted to 3m/water level, whichever is less. For carrying out mining in proximity to any bridge and/or embankment, appropriate safety zone should be worked out on a case-to-case basis, taking into account the structural parameters, locational aspects, flow rate, etc, and no mining should be carried out in the safety zone so worked out,” the report suggested.