Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal mining activities surrounding Jaisamand Lake, 26/08/2019

  • 26/08/2019

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Nanga Ram Dangi Vs Secretary, Department of Environment & Forests & Others dated 26/08/2019 regarding illegal mining activities surrounding Jaisamand Lake and its catchment area.

Background and Timeline:

The original application was filed in 2014 by Nanga Ram Dangi. He had also raised the issue with regard to depletion of wells used for irrigation as well as drinking purposes. The original application was decided on September 19, 2018, taking into consideration the status of the entire area and the illegal mining. The Directorate of Mines and Geology was granted three months time to ensure closure of all types of mining activities in the catchment area, as well as, the one surrounding Jaisamand Lake. 

The Department was to submit a report by January, 2019. Primarily the report mentions only in respect of the notices issued to the illegal miners. Furthermore, the respondents were to file affidavit as to whether any amount of environmental compensation has been recovered from the illegal miners. Subsequently, Additional Director Mines appeared before the Tribunal and filed an affidavit making reference to the First information reports which were filed. However, in the said criminal cases the vehicles were released in a routine manner. In so far as compensation is concerned, nothing was recovered. 

Therefore, it was held by the Tribunal on 22.01.2019, that the method adopted by the Directorate was not satisfactory. The Director, Mines and Geology Department was directed to appear in person on 08.02.2019. The Director, Mines, State of Rajasthan was unable to give any answer in respect of compliance which was to be made in furtherance of the earlier order and the Tribunal had ordered the Director to personally look into the matter and file affidavit. 

Thereafter, the case was taken up on various dates of hearing because the compliance of the orders had not been made, as recorded on 25.02.2019. It was so submitted by the Counsel that there were persons who were habitual and are repeatedly doing illegal mining. Therefore, we had directed for payment of compensation of Rs.1 Lakh at the first instance and on repetition, the said amount was to be doubled. It was also noted that Directorate has failed to ensure that the vehicles used for illegal mining are not released. Subsequently, many opportunities were given, particularly to the Directorate of Mines and Geology to take stringent steps against illegal mining activities and the vehicles used for said purpose. The NGT had made it clear that while recovering the compensation from the illegal miners the Directorate of Mines had to levy cost of the mineral extracted; amount of penalty to be imposed in accordance to Rajasthan Minor Mineral Concession Rule, 2017 and also compensation, on account of damage caused to the environment.

On 27.05.2019, the matter was again taken up in detail, in presence of Mr. S. P. Sharma, Mining Engineer, Udaipur and Tribunal had regretted that the order of 19.09.2018 passed in the presence of Director of Mining and Geology and its officials had not been complied at all. The Affidavit, as well as chart appended to it, shows that the Department did not proceed in accordance with the directions.

The Secretary, Department of Mines, State of Rajasthan and the Director of Mines and Geology has said that there was no illegal mining, which has been countered by the applicant with submission of various documents to the Tribunal (July 19, 2019). Amongst the important documents placed on record are the photographs of different sites at different villages, such as Village Awara, Village Boria,
Village Sulawas, Village Bambora. All these sites are in river Makradi. The photographs categorically show big pits from where mining had been done and the same are quite deep.
 
NGT Order of August 26, 2019: 
 
NGT is of the opinion that it would be just and proper to levy environmental compensation on the Directorate of Mining and Geology, Government of Rajasthan, Udaipur, of an amount of Rs. 5 Lakhs which shall be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board. Further, directions are issued to undertake restoration measures of the mining sites including filling of the pits.

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