Friday 28 October 2016

Large scale mining and quarrying on Yamuna bed in Haryana: Report

NEW DELHI: A report filed by local commissioners appointed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) to check the extent of illegal quarrying around Yamuna Nagar in Haryana have found evidence of large scale illegal mining and quarrying on Yamuna riverbed. The report has highlighted that massive illegal mining may have affected the course of the river too making the adjoining villages vulnerable to
disasters. The report based on field visits by court commissioners, district mining officer of Sirmaur and geologist at the directorate of industries, Shimla as independent experts also submitted that a large number of farmers opposed the mining or illegal quarrying of stones and boulders in the area because it affected their livelihood and farming practice.
"The farmers which also includes petitioner, Joginder Singh stated that massive illegal mining next to river Yamuna was taking place with direct connivance of the district administration including the police. The evidence of such large scale mining was visible in the entire landscape. The main concern of the farmers is that as a result of this large scale mining the entire flow of the river has been affected," said the report. The team of commissioners—advocates Ritwick Dutta, Surya Narayan Singh and Aditya Dhawan visited specific sites to ascertain the statements made by the farmers. "On inspection it was cleared that the entire area was pockmarked as a result of quarrying of stones and bolders...this we were informed by mining officials appointed by NGT," it added.The commissioners also found that the "river channel is at a higher elevation as compared to nearby land which is possible only because of large scale illegal mining...during high floods in Yamuna this might result in a sudden change of direction of the river and bring devastation to the villages settled along the river."
In Belgarh for instance, the team noticed large scale quarrying approximately 3000 to 4000 metric tonnes and above being carried out on either side of the river. This includes land owned by a former minister. "Only two sites were auctioned for mining in this region. But mining is being carried out almost all over the area..." it said.
The team also inspected some mining sites that were "legal" or had permits but they found even these sites to be violating several conditions imposed by the state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) while granting environmental clearance. For instance at a Ganga Yamuna Mining Company site in Bhood Majra, no permanent pillars were constructed to demarcate the entire mining site, no green belt has been developed around the mine so that they can utilize the entire space. As per conditions provided the SEIAA, the company is supposed to regularly monitor ground water and air quality in and around the mines. In fact, monitoring was to be carried out four times a year—pre-monsoon (April and May), monsoon (August) and post monsoon (November). No such data was collected by the company.
Joginder Singh, a farmer from the area had filed a petition in NGT against mining about two months ago. "There is massive loss of good agricultural land because of quarrying. We have noticed that rice being grown in the area. Mining companies are violating all environmental conditions in fact they have no idea they are supposed to comply with these conditions," said advocate Ritwick Dutta.

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