Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal excavation of sand from Son river, village Thatara, district Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh, 04/01/2023

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Abhishek Pandey Vs Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change & Others dated 04/01/2023.

Grievance in the application is against illegal excavation of sand from Son river by obstructing the river stream at village Thatara, district Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh by M/s. R.K. Transport and Construction Ltd. It is stated that the Project Proponent (PP) has been granted Environmental Clearance (EC) for sand quarry in the prohibited area of the Eco-Sensitive Zone of Son Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary. Mining lease has been given without auction and EC has also been illegally given at places where mining is not permissible.

A report on the matter was filed, November 1, 2022 by a joint committee comprising the Central Pollution Control Board, the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board, District Magistrate, Singrauli and Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh.

The NGT noted that though the report was filed more than two months back, no objection to the report has been filed by the project proponent or by any other respondent. Further, from the report it was observed that neither any district survey report was prepared nor replenishment study was conducted before grant of lease.

The Proponent made false declarations regarding the existence of National Park/Sanctuary/Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) within 10 Kms from the applied /approved quarry. The report also shows that the boundary of the village Thatara where the mining has been allowed is within 950 mtrs. from the boundary of the ESZ and as per the Notification declaring ESZ, such activities are prohibited within 1 Km of the boundary of the ESZ.

"Prima facie, it is evident that EC and mining lease have been granted illegally to the proponent," said the bench of Justice Sudhir Agarwal.

The NGT directed the state of Madhya Pradesh and State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Madhya Pradesh and R.K. Transport and Construction Ltd to file its response. The Inspector General, Wildlife, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change was asked to provide views on "carrying out mining operations to such an extent endangering the habitats of crocodiles and the guidelines of MoEF&CC to this effect".