National Green Tribunal: In an application against illegal sand mining by Ultimate Group, Sonipat, Haryana (‘Project Proponent’), the three-member Bench of Sheo Kumar Singh (Chairperson), Arun Kumar Tyagi (Judicial Member) and Dr. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member), directed the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (‘HSPCB’) to take immediate remedial action and to stop mining activity. The Tribunal also directed the Member Secretary, HSPCB, to take disciplinary action against the Regional Officer concerned for negligence in performing his duties and indirectly permitting illegal mining causing loss to the State exchequer.
In the matter at hand, the Project Proponent was operating sand quarries at Gyaspur- Rasulpur Sand Unit and was extracting sand from Yamuna beyond permissible quantity, to the extent of 40 feet, which has resulted in change of course of river Yamuna. The project was commissioned on 30-04-2018 and has been continuing without consent to operate (‘CTO’) since 30-09-2022, violating Section 33(A) of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
The Tribunal perused the Inspection report of the Regional Officer, HSPCB and noted that the matter was well within the knowledge of the Regional Officer. The Tribunal said that inspite of the knowledge that the unit had no valid CTO, it was indirectly permitted to operate, violating the environmental rules. The Tribunal also noted that no further action was taken to recover the environmental compensation which was assessed to the tune of Rs. 35,66,000/-. Thus, the Tribunal said that the inaction on the part of Regional Officer concerned revealed that the Regional Officer who was supposed to do his duty sincerely, fairly, and honestly had failed to exercise his duty sincerely, fairly, and honestly, and thus caused loss to the State exchequer by his inaction and indirectly permitted the Unit to operate without obtaining CTO. Therefore, the Tribunal directed the Member Secretary, HSPCB, to take disciplinary action against the Regional Officer concerned for negligence in performing his duties and indirectly permitting illegal mining causing loss to the State exchequer.
The Tribunal said that there was huge degradation of environment on account of unregulated sand mining, which poses threat to bio-diversity, could destroy riverine vegetation, cause erosion, pollute water sources, badly affecting riparian ecology, damaging ecosystem of rivers, safety of bridges, weakening of riverbeds, destruction of natural habitats of organisms living on the riverbeds, affects fish breeding and migration, spell disaster for the conservation bird species, increase saline water in the rivers. It has direct impact on the physical habitat characteristics of the rivers such as bed elevation, substrate composition and stability, in- stream roughness elements, depth, velocity, turbidity, sediment transport, stream discharge and temperature. Increase in demand of sand has placed immense pressure in the supply of sand resource and mining activities were going on illegally as well as legally without requisite restrictions.
Therefore, the Tribunal directed the HSPCB to take immediate remedial action and to stop mining activity and to realize the environmental compensation according to rules and to submit the report within four weeks.
The matter was further listed for hearing on 01-11-2023.
[Munish v. Haryana State Pollution Control Board, Original Application No. 269/2023, Order dated: 21-07-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the applicant: Advocate Narender Pal Singh and Advocate Ram Naresh Yadav;
For the respondent: Advocate Rahul Khurana.