Srinagar, Nov 29: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) taking cognisance of illegal riverbed mining in Romshi nallah in Pulwama has issued notices to District Magistrate (Deputy Commissioner) Pulwama and J&K State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
The double bench of NGT headed by Justice Prakash Srivastava (Chairperson) and A Senthil Veil (expert member) while acting on the petition of social activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat on Tuesday directed the District Magistrate Pulwama and SEIAA to file their detailed reports before the next date of hearing.
The case is now again listed before the NGT on February 5, 2024.
While hearing the counsel of the petitioner Advocate Rahul Chowdhary the NGT bench in its order noted: “The original application (OA) involves substantial issues relating to the environment. Hence, we deem it proper to issue notice to the respondents. The counsel for the applicant is directed to serve the respondents and file an affidavit of service before the next date of hearing. Respondent No 2, J&K Environment Impact Assessment Authority and Respondent No 5, District Magistrate, Pulwama are directed to file
their reports at least one week before the next date of hearing.
“I was forced to move to NGT as the project proponent and contractor continued to be involved in illegal riverbed mining. Despite my repeated appeals on social media and locals also urging the government to act the District Mineral Officer (DMO) Pulwama, Flood Control Department and other agencies failed to control illegal riverbed mining in Romshi nallah around Wahibugh, Chewakalan and adjoining villages of Pulwama. DC Pulwama on my request acted swiftly on some occasions but the contractor continued to be involved in illegal riverbed mining. In the last 2 years, the Romshi nallah has been destroyed with the use of heavy machines, JCB and L&T cranes. I urged the NGT to take the culprits to task by levying environmental compensation on the contractor and other Govt agencies found guilty of this loot and plunder. I am grateful to NGT for taking cognizance of my petition and I am sure like Doodh Ganga, Romshi nallah will also be free from illegal riverbed mining in the coming months,” Bhat said.
The counsel for the petitioner Advocate Rahul Chowdhary submitted before the NGT that the mining activity was being undertaken by the contractor (project proponent) in violation of the Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines, 2016 and Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining, 2020 and the condition of Environmental Clearance (EC) dated March 4, 2022, especially the condition relating to prohibition on mining outside prescribed area (Condition No 22) and use of heavy machinery in mining (Condition No 53)
On the orders of NGT the illegal riverbed mining in Doodh Ganga has been stopped since June 1 this year and already Geology and Mining Department Budgam has already paid Rs 1 crore as a penalty as well last year. The case is still pending in NGT and very recently Govt gave sanction for Rs 32 crores on NGT orders to be used for restoration of Doodh Ganga.