Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding remedial action against illegal mechanical sand mining, Yamuna, Shamli, Uttar Pradesh, 07/04/2021

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Sandeep Kharb Vs Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change & Others dated 07/04/2021.

The question for consideration is remedial action against illegal mechanical sand mining on the river bed of River Yamuna and construction of a temporary bridge with hume pipes at Shamli, Uttar Pradesh.The matter was considered by the Tribunal earlier in the light of the report of the joint Committee comprising Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) and Collector Shamli to the effect that illegal mining was being done. The Tribunal directed remedial action.

The matter was last considered on October 29, 2020 in the light of the status report filed by the District Magistrate, Shamli, October 28, 2020 - the report acknowledged illegal mining and also mentionined that compensation was assessed with reference to the rate of royalty. The Tribunal observed that calculation of compensation based merely on loss of royalty without reference to cost of damage to the environment would not meet the mandate of environment law. Compensation for loss to environment was required by estimating the cost of restoration by the joint Committee of State PCB and the District Magistrate, Shamli.

Accordingly, further report filed by the State PCB February 22, 2021 informed the NGT that amount of ₹77,15,000/- has been recovered towards royalty and amount of ₹4,80,000/- has been assessed and recovered towards compensation taking violation to be for 48 days.

The NGT, April 7, 2021 stressed that compensation for damage to the environment has to be in the light of cost of restoration with deterrent element and having regard to the financial capacity of the violator and this aspect does not seem to have been considered in spite of earlier observations. The UPPCB and the District Magistrate, Shamli have been ordered to take further appropriate action following due process of law.

The compensation has been recovered for only 48 days, though illegal mining was found for about five years, as per the report. On that basis, royalty has been recovered for the period of five years. Compensation is equal to loss caused or suffered and compensation must have a relation with the financial worth of the violator, so as to act as a deterrent, the NGT said and directed the Joint Committee to look into the matter of compensation again.