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NGT orders probe into illegal mining in Bandh Baretha Wildlife Sanctuary

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered a probe into allegations of illegal mining activities within the Bandh Baretha Wildlife

By groundreportdesk
New Update
NGT probes alleged illegal mining in Bandh Baretha Wildlife Sanctuary

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued directives to the Chief Secretaries and Principal Chief Conservators of Forests of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to investigate allegations of collusion and corruption among local officials regarding illegal mining and transportation activities within the Bandh Baretha Wildlife Sanctuary.

The sanctuary, situated nearly 45 kilometers from Bharatpur in Rajasthan and 76 kilometers from Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh, has been embroiled in controversy due to rampant illegal mining activities, leading to severe environmental damage and substantial losses to the government exchequer.

Reports indicate a plethora of violations within the sanctuary, including damage to internal roads, breaches in boundary walls, unauthorized tree felling, and illicit use of generators for electricity. Furthermore, heavy machinery and cranes are reportedly being used for mining operations, alongside the deployment of large trucks for the transportation of stone blocks.

The NGT highlighted that authorities have confirmed extensive illegal mining in the area, with disregard for necessary environmental clearances under the Environment Act, 1986, as well as neglecting to obtain consent under the Water Act, 1974, or the Air Act, 1981.

Additionally, the Sustainable Sand Mining and Management Guidelines of 2016 have been blatantly ignored, resulting in adverse ecological impacts. Alarmingly, no management plan has been devised for the restoration of the affected area.

In response to these serious allegations, the NGT has proposed the nomination of two independent senior departmental officers by the Chief Secretary and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests. These officers will be tasked with investigating the matter thoroughly, identifying culpable officials, and recommending measures to curb illegal mining activities. Moreover, they will assess the financial losses incurred by the government treasury due to the illicit mining operations.

The tribunal further emphasized the necessity of enforcing penalties stipulated in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and recovering environmental compensations specified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Additionally, it directed the confiscation and seizure of vehicles involved in illegal mining transportation, subject to payment of requisite penalties or compensations determined by the CPCB or the NGT.

Crucially, copies of the NGT order have been dispatched to the Chief Secretaries of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the Principal Chief Conservators of Forests of both states, and the Member Secretaries of the Pollution Control Boards of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

These authorities are instructed to take prompt actions by established regulations. A report detailing the progress of these actions is mandated to be submitted within four weeks, with the next hearing of the case scheduled for April 22, 2024.

The NGT's proactive stance underscores the urgency of addressing environmental degradation and corruption, signaling a commitment to safeguarding India's natural resources and biodiversity. As stakeholders await further developments, the outcome of these investigations and subsequent actions are anticipated to have far-reaching implications for conservation efforts and regional governance.

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