NGT raps CPCB over justification of EC for illegal mining in Maharashtra

The National Green Tribunal has pulled up the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on a plea against illegal mining and operation of stone crushing activities in Gondia, Bhandara districts in Maharashtra, saying no justification for mining being allowed in violation of environmental norms, including the requisite consents.

“Needless to say, Environmental Clearance (EC) can be granted only after appropriate appraisal, including necessary preparation of DSR and Mining Plan,” the bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said in a recent order.

The plea stated that the illegal mining and operation of stone crushing activities in Districts Gondia and Bhandara in Maharashtra is without requisite Environmental Clearance (EC) in terms of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Deepak Kumar v. State of Haryana & Ors.

On July 15, 2021, on consideration of the matter, the Tribunal had sought a status report from a Joint Committee comprising CPCB, Maharashtra State PCB and District Magistrates of Gondia and Bhandara. “We have heard counsel for the parties and perused further affidavit filed on behalf of CPCB on January 11, 2022, to the effect that environmental laws such as Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the EP Act, 1986 requirements are over and above the requirements of the Mining Rules. Thus, there is no justification for mining being allowed in violation of environmental norms, including the requisite consents/clearance.” the order dated February 3 read.

“On due consideration, we find every reason to hold that irrespective of the Mining Rules, environmental norms cannot be dispensed with. One of the justifications for noncompliance is that the area is less than 5 hectares. While EC/consents are required even for the lesser areas as held by the Supreme Court, factually mining has been allowed not only for the areas below 5 hectares but also for the areas of more than 5 hectares, as shown from the particulars mentioned in the list annexed.

“As already observed, no mining can be allowed in violation of requisite EC in terms of Deepak Kumar v. State of Haryana, supra and consents under the Water Act, 1974 and the Air Act, 1981 as held in the judgment of Supreme Court in Goa Foundation v. UOI & Ors. Needless to say, EC can be granted only after appropriate appraisal including necessary preparation of DSR and Mining Plan, the order said.

Accordingly, the State PCB may take action for the past violations and ensure that no mining takes place without requisite EC/consents in the future, the bench directed and disposed of the plea.

20220205-151002

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