New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken notice of illegal mining of silica sand and its washing plants in the Prayagraj district of Uttar Pradesh, observing the unscientific methods as environmentally hazardous and having adverse health impact on people in the locality.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson, Adarsh Kumar Goel was looking at the report of an earlier joint panel formed to check a plea against illegal mining operations in Pervaizabad, Lalapur, Bankipur, Janwa, and Dhara in Prayagraj district.
On inspecting the site by the NGT-constituted committee, it was found that there are a number of environmental violations. The mining department has constituted a task force and registered seven FIRs in the matter.
The joint committee also pointed out the failures of the project proponents, including unscientific treatment of waste water, absence of flow meters, absence of demarcation, proper approach roads, failure to control fugitive emissions, unscientific storage of overburden, absence of record about expenditure under CER plans, absence of health record, monitoring stations, display boards and CCTV cameras as well as adequate green belts.
It said they have received information from Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) Regional Office in Prayagraj, that currently 35 out of total 83 silica sand washing units were found operational in Shankargarh block -- Lalapur, Bankipur, Janwa, Dhara, Kaitha, Lakhnauti and Pratappur area.
These units have obtained valid consent to operate under the Water Act and Air Act, the UPPCB informed the committee.
However, expressing displeasure over the committee report, the green court said remedial action is hardly adequate to ensure compliance and to protect the environment and public health.
It is not clear whether any requisite environmental clearance has been granted for mining and whether the Environmental Impact Assessment reports which are said to have been submitted have been duly appraised, the court added.
There is also no proper assessment of compensation, corresponding to the damage caused to the environment and public health, it said.
The bench pointed out that according to the applicant, there are more than 500 silica sand washing units but only 54 are mentioned in the report.
There is a need to take remedial action for ensuring compliance with environmental norms by stopping hazardous activity till compliance.
CCTV cameras, monitoring stations, green belts, and all other safeguards need to be established.
Further, stressing the need for remedial action in the matter, the bench directed to constitute a joint committee with the Prayagraj Divisional Commissioner as Chairman and the Chief Conservator of Forest, Prayagraj, and nominees of Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Board, Uttar Pradesh State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and Agriculture Secretary (an expert in soil conservation) as members to ensure that all washing units conduct their activities in accordance with the statutory procedures and environmental norms, and compensation is assessed and recovered for the past violations.
Directing the committee to undertake a site visit within two months, the bench sought a detailed report and listed for further hearing on May 18.
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