The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday directed the Punjab government to stop illegal sand mining in Rupnagar district and take action against the erring officers within three months.
NGT Bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel expressed concern over rampant mining and directed Punjab Chief Secretary to appear before it on March 7 with a compliance report on the issue. Further, the Bench also directed the state to stop illegal extraction and transportation of sand, recover compensation for violations and take action against the vehicles used for mining in Rupnagar’s Harshabela, Swarha and Baihara villages.
Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed the committee formed to look into illegal mining to make an assessment of the damages to be recovered.
“The compensation should be deterrent so as to render illegal activities unprofitable. The vehicles involved may not be released unless 50 percent of the showroom value of the new vehicle is recovered. The damages should include not only the cost of the illegally mined material but also for damage to the environment, “NGT Bench said.
The NGT’s direction came after perusing the report of a committee comprising officials from the Central Pollution Control Board, mining director, and the state pollution control board.
The committee in its report submitted to the NGT stated that mining in the region was being done in an unscientific manner and beyond the permitted depth. It further told NGT that the stone crushers were located near the river bed in violation of law, the absence of check posts and the safety and stability of river banks were not maintained.
The committee that submitted was formed by the Green Tribunal on October 20 last on a plea filed by a lawyer Dinesh Kumar Chadha, who had moved the tribunal alleging huge environmental damage caused by illegal mining across the district.