NGT directs Punjab govt to act on panel report on illegal mining

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Punjab government to take action as per the report of an NGT-assigned committee which found environmental violations due to illegal mining and use of excavated soil for leveling the agriculture fields in Fatehgarh Sahib district in the state.

The bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel was dealing a plea alleging illegal mining at village Bhallmajra, near Chanarthal in connivance with the authorities. It was stated that heavy tippers, trucks, JCB machines, and cranes are used in the course of mining.

Acting on the complaint, the tribunal had formed a committee headed by Justice Jasbir Singh, former Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court last year to visit the soil excavation and mining sites of the villages.

Accordingly, a report has been filed by the Committee and it was observed that the excavated soil from the agriculture fields, which are on the higher altitude, has been used to level agriculture fields, which are at lower altitude and agriculture corps are being sown regularly during the last five years by some landowners.

The Monitoring Committee is of the view that legal action and environmental compensation has to be taken upon the landowners of Bhallmajra and Sohagari villages, where mining has been found in an area of 5.5 acres of land.

Using the excavated soil for leveling the agriculture fields, which are at low altitudes, may not be justified, the committee noted.

The committee also recommended that the roads which have been damaged due to movement of overloaded tippers, carrying soil, may be repaired within two months by getting the cost of repair from the owners of overloaded vehicles.

In view of the Monitoring Committee recommends the Executive Engineer, Construction Division, PWD (B&R), Sirhind branch shall make detailed survey of all the link roads falling under the jurisdiction of his office and make an assessment as to whether any damage has been caused to these roads with the movement of overloaded tippers carrying soil, within a month, said the order dated February 17.

In case the damage, caused to the link roads due to movement of overloaded tippers carrying soil is found, NHAI-1 and railway authorities may be issued notice for recovery of damage caused to the roads within two months, and the cost of the damage caused to the roads may be recovered from the said authorities within three months and the damaged roads may be repaired within four months, read the order.

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