Judgment of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal mining in Son river bed, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, 19/05/2023

  • 19/05/2023

Judgment of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Suo motu action in illegal mining for excavation of morrum at Araji no 824 kha in area 16.194 and 12.368 hectares respectively at village Agori Khas, tehsil Obra, district Sonbhadra.

The matter related to mining of sand and morrum near eco-sensitive zone and protected reserved forest in violation of various conditions of environmental clearance, consent orders and environmental laws, directly causing damage to environment, aquatic ecology and in particular flora and fauna in the area under consideration. The illegal mining was taking place at village Agori Khas, tehsil Obra, district Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), May 19, 2023 directed Sudhakar Pandey and M/s New India Minerals to pay environmental compensation of Rs. 8.16 crores and Rs. 7.08 crores respectively to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB).

The tribunal also asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests of states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India (MoEF&CC) to consider the matter of declaration of part of river Son running in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as wildlife sanctuary and ESZ for protection of gharials. The necessary remedial and appropriate action should be taken within three months. A joint committee was directed to be constituted to re-visit all mining leases granted for mining activities in Son river bed for carrying out mining activities in district Sonbhadra. This was to ensure that mining activities are not degrading and damaging the river stream itself and harming the protected animals like ghadiyal, turtles, tortoises and take appropriate decisions and actions in accordance with law within three months.

The NGT, May 19, 2023 reinforced the fact that till a decision was taken to protect river Son and its animals, no further mining in Son river bed in district Sonbhadra shall be allowed. The District Magistrate, Sonbhadra and the UPPCB should ensure compliance of this direction.

The ECs, CTOs and NOCs granted to Sudhakar Pandey and New India Minerals for carrying out mining activities in Son river bed shall be re-visited by SEIAA Uttar Pradesh, UPPCB and other authorities. Where the leased area is surrounded by reserved forest, ESZ and sanctuaries, then appropriate decisions need to be taken as to whether in such circumstances, mining activities should be allowed to continue therein or not and till such a decision is taken, no further mining would be allowed.