Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding protection of National Chambal Sanctuary from sand mining, 25/07/2023

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of In re: News item published in The Hindu dated 27.03.2022 titled “Digging up the Chambal” dated 25/07/2023.

The grievance in the application is against illegal mining, taking place in periphery of Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan near Dholpur, close to National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS) which is a habitat of rare species of animals particularly Gharial, roofed turtles and also river dolphins.

The Tribunal observed that sand mining has increased exponentially within the National Chambal Sanctuary. Several locations, previously untouched are now being incessantly mined for sand. "The Rithora sand bank has been completely levelled. Until 2019, there used to be at least 35 gharial nests at the Rithora sand bank. However, the nesting site does not exist anymore due to illegal mining," the NGT, July 25, 2023 noted.

The bench of Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi directed the district authorities (Chief Secretaries, DGPs, PCBs of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and SSPs and DMs of Bhind, Morena, Gwalior, Agra, Etawah, Jhansi, Dholpur and Bharatpur) to periodically monitor and ensure compliance of (2016 and 2020) Guidelines and control illegal mining and submit a further action taken report within three months.

The Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) need to have monitoring with Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh to provide clarity on acceptability of Notification, January 31, 2023 de-notifying 207 hectare from the sanctuary. In addition, the Secretary, MoEF&CC need to have a joint meeting with the Chief Secretaries of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and the concerned head of departments (Forest and Wildlife and those related to NCS) and to ascertain complete protection of NCS with reference to wildlife and no mining or other activities, the order said.