Joint Committee report on sand mining in the districts of Gadag, Raichur and Kalburgi, Karnataka, 10/06/2021
Report of the Joint Committee in Original Application No. 194 of 2020 in compliance of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order, October 7, 2020. The matter is related to sand mining in the districts of Gadag, Raichur and Kalburgi, Karnataka.
The Joint Committee inspected 36 mines in Gadag and one each in Raichur and Gulbarga districts. During the visit, mine owners expressed technical difficulties/non-viabilities in installing the dust control measures and implementation of water conservation measures.
The Committee opined that the dust extraction could be installed and effectively operated in a closed area, whereas in the inspected areas both the mining as well as the sand storage area are done in an open area and hence it would be technically not feasible. Further, the dust pollution is naturally prevented due to the moisture content and the density of the sand. The Joint Committee report said that the condition of dust control measures stipulated for Environment Clearance (EC) is not so relevant for sand mining operations. Instead of dust extraction, water sprinkling at the stockyard may be insisted on by the EC.
In view of the above, the Committee opined that conditions on dust extraction system, water conservation, Environmental Management Cell, CSR need to be revisited. The MoEFCC / SEIAA need to consider suitable modification of above conditions in the Environmental Clearance for such sand mining projects in future.
The usage of semi mechanized, or mechanized mining may be permitted as per the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016, only in case of the blocks where the depth of sand deposition is more than three meters and depth of mining can be permitted more than one meter. Mining up to one-meter depth should be by manual only.
The joint Committee noted that there are certain non- compliances of EC conditions in 21 mines in Gadag and one each in Kalburgi and Raichur especially relating to installation of dust control measures, implementation of water conservations measures, advertisement on grant of EC in newspapers, rain water harvesting measures, improvement of transport route, constitution of Environmental Management Cell, submission of half yearly compliance report to Regional Office of the MoEFCC etc,. by almost all the leased sand miners.
The Joint Committee was of the view that imposing such non-relevant conditions in the Environmental Clearance has led to such non-compliances and hence MoEFCC / SEIAA should relook into such conditions while according Environmental Clearance as some of the conditions are practically not-feasible for implementation by small sand mining leases.
As regards the non- compliances of EC, mine owners have been directed to take action to comply with the conditions and submit a Action taken report / Action plan with time schedule. Few sand mine lease holders have submitted compliance report along with latest ambient air quality monitoring report, noise level report and the monitoring reports reveal that all the parameters are within the limit.
However, there are few short comings such as improvement and maintenance of approach road, wearing of personnel protective equipment by workers and advertisements about grants of EC. In view of the least importance given by the lease owners on Environmental Clearance compliances and to bring attention and importance on Environmental Clearance, the committee felt that a lump sum amount, say Rs two to three lakhs may be imposed on all 23 mines as Environmental compensation.