Judgment of the National Green Tribunal regarding movement of heavy trucks and dumpers carrying sand from river Balason on the roads around Shivmandir Bazar, Darjeeling, West Bengal, 28/07/2022
Judgment of the National Green Tribunal (Eastern Zone Bench, Kolkata) in the matter of Tribunal on its Own Motion Re.:- Movement of Heavy Loaded Dumpers, Trucks and Traffic Control on the roads around Shivmandir Bazar and adjoining area Vs West Bengal Pollution Control Board & Others dated 28/07/2022.
This matter has been taken up Suo motu on the basis of a complaint, March 2, 2022 filed by Shivmandir Nagorik Mancha.
The grievance of the complainants is that the movement of heavy six wheels dumpers/trucks in the Halermatha, Chaitannayapur, Kharag Singh road, Shantipur, Sarat Nagar, Leninpur under Atharakhai Gram Panchayat and Matigara Block of district Darjeeling, is causing air, noise and dust pollution. Besides this, dumpers are moving at night disturbing the people. The people are also not able to move on the roads safely and fearlessly and the roads and drains are also being damaged. These dumpers are said to be carrying sand and stone from the Balason river bed.
The West Bengal Pollution Control Board, July 25, 2022 said that the area in question was inspected, July 21, 2022 and an inspection report prepared. The report noted that the area is densely populated and the inroads of which are used for the movement of the trucks and dumpers. Two schools are there in the area, one of which named Shishu Tirtha is located just adjacent to the road.
At present sand lifting was stopped from July 1, 2022 in compliance to the order of the District Magistrate, Darjeeling, June 27, 2022 in pursuance of the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change restraining all types of mining operations like lifting, loading and transportation of sand from riverbeds during monsoon season. Thus, it was not possible to measure the level of air, dust and noise pollution caused by the movement of trucks and dumpers.
"However condition of the roads was found to be wretched. Large potholes were found on those roads and side drains were found damaged," the report added. River Balason was visited and found that sand mining was carried out at some locations through tractors and small trucks, however no dumper loading was observed.
The report concluded that as the area is thickly populated, movement of sand loaded dumpers and trucks through the inroads may cause air and noise pollution.
The NGT directed the authorities to ensure strict compliance of the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016. It shall be the duty of the District Magistrate, Darjeeling, to ensure that there shall be no sand mining permitted with the use of dumpers or JCBs or other heavy vehicles in the area in question nor will dumpers or heavy vehicles be permitted for loading and transportation of sand from the river bed of Balason. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board should regularly monitor the ambient air quality and noise levels.