National Green Tribunal in a recent judgment has expressed its concern on the illegal mining being practiced by various stone crushing units in the state of Punjab. The Tribunal has directed the State Pollution Control Board to revisit its policy of the consents under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 to stand-alone stone crushers without credible and effective data to ensure that the raw material is not sourced by illegal mining.
National Green Tribunal has directed the Punjab government to limit the number of stone crushers as per carrying capacity of source of raw material available. The carrying capacity addresses the question as to how many stone crushers can be permitted into any area without the risk of degrading the environment.
The Tribunal also directed the authorities to take stringent action against the stone crushers not having accountable sources of raw materials.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A.K.Goel was hearing an original application filed by Bachitter Singh against illegal operation of stone crushers in Roopnagar district.
Noticing the submissions made by Manoj Swarup Sr. Adv, the green panel observed that there is huge amount of illegal mining to the tune of more than one crore metric tonnes of the value of more than Rs 600 crore.
The Tribunal also expressed their concern over lack of action on the ground and said only paperwork is being done for calculating compensation for damage to environment.
It further observed that here is no effective action on the ground except paperwork of calculating compensation. Can such situation be allowed by authorities if doctrine of public trust and good governance are to be followed.
This should be an eye opener for the authorities in the State of Punjab but it seems that no attention is being paid to the same. There is clear need for continuous evaluation and remedial action, the bench said.
The NGT said it appears that stand alone stone crushers have been allowed, without permission for mining, possibly to avoid the requirement of Environmental Clearance but, on the ground, mining is taking place to feed such stone crushers.
Establishment of such stone crushers is thus against the spirit of requirement of Environmental Clearance. This is resulting in not only loss of revenue but also damage to the environment.
The Tribunal directed that a suitable mechanism for the purpose may be evolved by the Chief Secretary, Punjab within one month from today and remedial action taken expeditiously, preferably within three months thereafter.
Name Of Counsels for the Applicant: Manoj Swarup Sr. Adv. with Rishi Malhotra Adv.