Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding mining in Sariska, Rajasthan, 10/08/2020
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of In Re: News item published on 27.07.2020 in “Times of India” titled “Forest guard mowed down by ‘mining mafia’ in Sariska” dated 10/08/2020.
Proceedings in this matter have been initiated based on media report1 dated 27.07.2020 under the heading “Forest guard mowed down by ‘mining mafia’ in Sariska” to the effect that “a forest home guard was mowed down by a tractor belonging to suspected mining mafia inside Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) on Sunday after he attempted to stop them along with his colleague.
The newspaper report said that the reserve is spread across 1,281 sq. km. area and divided into six ranges. There were just 108 forest guards, far less than its sanctioned strength of 132. Moreover, with the menace of frequent attacks in Sariska - over illegal mining, grazing among others unarmed forest guards often struggle to protect the area. This was not the first time that villagers had attacked forest officials.
It is patent that mining is taking place inside the Tiger Reserve in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and mining norms laid down under the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines 2016 by CPCB under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 . There appears to be a failure of the oversight regulatory mechanism in enforcement of the provision of the Wildlife Act as well as Sustainable Mining Guidelines, the NGT said.
The Tribunal expressed its concern at such incidents in eco sensitive areas and the defiance of environmental laws remaining unchecked. The Tribunal said that it hoped that the state of Rajasthan would monitor the enforcement of law in this direction at appropriate higher level and the MoEF&CC would coordinate with the concerned state authorities.
"To maintain morale of the guards and other enforcement officials and to uphold the rule of law, family of the deceased ought to be suitably rehabilitated and police machinery must ensure that guilty is apprehended expeditiously and brought to justice. Further, illegal mining in tiger reserve must be strictly dealt with," the order said.
The NGT directed the constitution of a joint committee comprising of Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board, district magistrate Alwar and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force), Rajasthan to take action and furnish a report to the Tribunal. The report should mention the estimate of illegal mining, number of mines sanctioned in the area and regulatory mechanism to check the illegal mining in the eco-sensitive area.