NGT | Collusion of authorities in allowing illegal sand mining suspected; Tribunal directs to not merely recover loss of royalty but also for loss to environment

National Green Tribunal (NGT): The Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice Sheo Kumar Singh (Judicial Member) and Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal and Dr Nagin Nanda (Experts Member) addressed an issue with regard to illegal sand mining and permitting the same by authorities concerned.

Issue for Consideration?

Remedial action against illegal mechanical sand mining on the river bed of River Yamuna and construction of a temporary bridge with hume pipes at Shamli, Uttar Pradesh.

Tribunal had earlier considered the above-stated issue in light of the joint committee report to the effect that illegal mining was being done. Remedial action was also directed against which the entity carrying on mining approached the Supreme Court by way of appeal but the same was dismissed on 13-11-2019.

Tribunal in its Order dated 28-11-2019 noted the remedial action taken by way of levy of compensation and revocation of Environmental Clearance (EC) had been taken.

State of U.P.

On 05-03-2020, a statement was made on behalf of the State of U.P that mining had been permitted by subsequent orders as the entity had adopted safeguards like installing CCTV Cameras etc.

District Magistrate had filed a report wherein it was found that as per inspection conducted, the lessee was found doing illegal mining beyond the mining lease area and as per the mining regulations compensation was assessed with reference to the rate of royalty. Thereafter, the lessee has still been allowed to continue even though compensation has still not been paid on the ground that an appeal is pending even though there is no stay.

Decision

Tribunal was surprised that even after finding illegal mining the lessee was allowed to continue without any coercive measure and even without recovering the assessed compensation which is against the rule of law and arbitrary.

Bench held that the Collusion of authorities allowing such action is not ruled out which needs to be looked into by higher authority concerned. 

Calculation for illegal mining is not based on settled principles which require compensation to be assessed not merely to recover loss of royalty but also for the loss to the environment. The compensation must be thus revised. The lessee may be required to bear the cost of restoration of the area where mining was done illegally.

Further, authorities may consider revoking of Environment Clearance in favour of a violator but no case of mining should be allowed without prior payment of the entire assessed compensation.

The above-stated aspects shall be looked into by a joint committee of the State PCB and the District Magistrate.

Matter to be listed on 24-02-2021. [Sandeep Kharb v. Ministry of Environment Forests & Climate Change, 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 857, decided on 29-10-2020]

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