National Green Tribunal, New Delhi (NGT):The Coram of Justice K. Ramakrishnan (Judicial Member) and Dr Satyagopal Korlapati (Expert Member) directed to take action against violators, initiate prosecution, and recover penalties under the respective mining rules for illegal beach sand mining and shrimp farming along the coastal stretches of the Bay of Bengal.

Matter in concern

  • Large scale illegal beach sand mining on the coastal stretch of Bay of Bengal touching the adjoining villages of Pallipalem, Gogunnamatam of Rajole Mandalam, Kesavadasupalem, Chintalamori, Sankaraguptam, Padmatipalem, Turpupalem, Gollapalem, Karavaka, Kesinipally in Malikipuram and Sakhinetipalli mandals of East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh.

  • Shrimp farms (Aqua farms) being operated along the beach without getting any necessary permission or clearances from the respective departments.

Applicant's contention

The Applicant alleged that even after several directions were given by the NGT regarding the regulation of sand mining, but it was not followed by the authorities in the State. It eventually led to illegal mining by unauthorised miscreants, causing heavy loss to the exchequer.

According to the Applicant, representations were made to the authorities but no action was taken.

Relief Claimed

  • Appoint an independent experts committee to assess the loss, damage caused due to illegal beach sand mining,

  • Direct the respondents No. 1,4,7,9 and District Collector of East Godavari districts to remove all illegal and unauthorized Aqua/fish ponds situated in sea coast/CRZ area,

  • Direct the respondents to conduct cumulative study on damage caused due to flooding of sea water into agriculture fields for paying compensation to the victims, farmers,

  • Direct the respondent No.10 to investigate and register cases on the persons caused damage to the environment by conducting massive illegal mechanical sand mining in beaches and submit the status of past FIRs and action taken,

  • Direct respondents to indentify the government officials who have allowed the damage to environment, coast and causing disaster for fixing the responsibility including taking criminal and civil action,

  • Direct respondents to assess the damage caused due to disaster occur on 25.05.2020 in the form of sea water entering through drains into fertile agriculture lands,

  • Direct respondents to restore the beach park at Beach nagar, Chintalamori and recover the loss/environment compensation from the persons responsible for occupation and damage,

  • Direct respondents to setup Locks for the Sankaraguptam drain at Chintalamori and other drains in East Godavari district to stop entering sea water into villages and agriculture fields.

Tribunal's Take

Expressing displeasure on the part of the State machinery on their failure regarding various directions issued by the Supreme Court, High Courts and the National Green Tribunal on sand mining in the State, the Tribunal appointed a Joint Committee to inspect the places along the sea coast in East Godavari District and ascertain the genuineness of the allegations and submit report if there is any violation is found. The Committee was also directed to ascertain the allegations of encroachment into beach area by the aqua farms and whether any agricultural land had been converted for the purpose of conducting aqua farms in that area.

The Joint Committee consists of —

  1. a Senior Scientist from Regional Office of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC), Chennai,

  2. a Senior Scientist from the Regional Office of Central Pollution Control Board, Chennai,

  3. a Senior Officer from the Andhra Pradesh State Coastal Zone Management Authority,

  4. a Scientist nominated by National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (MoEF), Anna University, Chennai,

  5. a Senior Officer from Andhra Pradesh State Pollution Control Board and

  6. the District Collector of East Godavari District

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Regional Office, Chennai was designated as nodal agency for co-ordination and for providing necessary logistics.

The Joint Committee has inspected the various areas and submitted a detailed report on the violations of and action to be taken by Department of Mines and Geology, State Mineral Development Corporation and District Collectors, Coastal Aquaculture Authority and State Fisheries Department.

Taking the report in account, the Tribunal directed Department of Mines and Geology, APSPCB, State Coastal Zone Authority, and the district collectors of respective districts to take action against violators which included removal of those units, disconnection of electricity, imposing environmental compensation as per law and initiating prosecution.

[Venkatapathi Raja Yenumula v. Union of India, Original Application No. 91/2020(SZ), dated 18-07-2022]

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