The Aravalli range of Northwestern India is one of the oldest mountain folds of the world with an elevation of 300m to 900m. They stretch for a distance of 800 km from Himmatnagar in Gujarat to Delhi spanning Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Delhi.
History of illegal mining
Under the Supreme Court orders, mining in the Aravalli region has been banned since 2002. Mining cannot be resumed unless permitted by the Union Environment Ministry however, mining continued in the area illegally. In 2014, the state government of Rajasthan banned mining activities in the Aravalli Hills range and restrained operation in 52 mines.
A 2018 report by the Central Empowered Committee appointed by the Supreme Court revealed that 25% of the Aravalli Range has been lost owing to illegal mining in Rajasthan. And, over 10,300 hectares have been affected outside lease-bound tours in 80% of the Aravallis.
According to the CEC report, it was discovered that 31 Aravalli hills have disappeared since the Survey of India topographic sheets were created in 1967–1968, out of the 128 hills of the Alwar district in Rajasthan that were sampled from a total of 2269 hills.
Petition by the Aravalli Bachao members
In 2022, members of the Aravalli Bachao Movement filed a petition with video and photographic evidence before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and raised concerns.
In response to the petition, NGT formed a joint committee consisting of representatives from the Union Environment Ministry and the state police department. NGT asked the committee to file a factual verification report on the matter within three months. The joint committee found that there was in fact illegal mining in many sites that were in violation of the prohibitory order.
The NGT then ordered that advanced technological drones should be provided to the Haryana State Mining Department to take prompt action against illegal mining activities. They also directed the Director, Mines and Geology, Department of Haryana to submit information regarding complaints received in the past 5 years regarding illegal mining, action taken on them, vehicles impounded or confiscated, number of cases where proceedings of recovery of penalty, and environmental compensation were initiated. Furthermore, what steps were taken for environmental restoration in areas of illegal mining?
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