Members of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement had undertaken field visits in the Aravalli areas in Gurugram, Nuh and Faridabad around India’s National Capital Region from March 2021 to March 2022 and found illegal stone and sand mining happening in 16 locations in contravention of judicial verdicts and environment protection laws. In many locations, we found substantial portions of the hills mined and, in some instances, completely razed to the ground. This negatively impacts the pollution levels and water security of the highly polluted and water stressed National Capital Region as Aravallis are NCR’s green lungs and biggest source of ground water recharge. Many of the areas of illegal mining fall under the protection of the Punjab Land Preservation Act which prohibits cutting of trees, clearing of land and mining of stones in the Haryana Aravallis. Mining is completely banned in the Aravallis falling in Faridabad, Gurugram and Nuh districts in the State of Haryana according to the Hon’ble Supreme Court order dated 8.05.2009 in the M.C. Mehta Vs. Union of India case. The Notification of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change dated 07.05.1992 also prohibits mining operations in the Aravalli range in Gurugram and Nuh.
This blog gives details of illegal sand and stone mining in the Haryana Aravallis in India’s National Capital Region.
LEGAL CASE FILED IN NGT FOR ILLEGAL MINING IN 3 DISTRICTS OF HARYANA ARAVALLIS
With the use of GIS technology, satellite images and toposheets of the illegal mining areas were prepared for the years 2011 and 2022. The images and comparison made clearly shows that mining is continuing despite the ban on mining in these areas. On 12th of May 2022, we filed a legal case (Application No. 362/2022 Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement Versus Union of India & Ors.) in the National Green Tribunal for illegal stone and sand mining in a total of 16 locations in the Aravallis in Gurugram, Nuh and Faridabad through the law firm Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE).
Prayers in the legal petition are as follows:
- Government authorities take steps to stop illegal stone and sand mining.
- Strict action is taken against defaulting officials.
- Native planting and restoration activities are undertaken in the degraded mining areas.
- Constitute an independent Aravalli Protection Authority for protection of the entire Aravalli range across the 4 states of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat as the state governments are failing to protect the Aravallis despite so many laws and court orders.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NGT ORDER DATED 23.05.2022
The National Green Tribunal Bench comprising Hon’ble Justice Mr. Arun Kumar Tyagi and Expert Member Mr. Afroz Ahmad via court order dated 23rd May 2022 in Application No. 362/2022 Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement Versus Union of India & Ors. has constituted a Joint Committee of representatives of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Central Pollution Control Board, Haryana State Pollution Control Board, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Mining & Geology Department of the Haryana government, Director General of Police and Commissioner of Gurugram Division. The Joint Committee has been directed to meet within four weeks and undertake visits to all 16 locations for ascertaining whether any illegal mining has been done in the area, quantum of such mining and magnitude of the loss caused to the environment and the state exchequer. Haryana State Pollution Control Board has been made the nodal agency for coordination and compliance. The Factual Verification Report has to be furnished by the Joint Committee within three months. The next date of hearing in the National Green Tribunal for this case is on 24th August 2022.
The NGT court order has additionally directed the Director General of Police and Director, Mining & Geology, Government of Haryana to file affidavits giving information regarding how many complaints were received regarding illegal mining in the area during the last 5 years along with action taken on such complaints, in how many cases proceedings for recovery of penalty and environmental compensation were initiated and what steps were taken for environmental restoration in the areas of illegal mining.
The NGT Bench further stated strongly in the court order dated 23rd May 2022 that in the application allegations have been made that on making of complaints regarding illegal mining no action was taken by the concerned police officials. Any complaint regarding illegal mining, which not only causes loss to the state exchequer but also results in environmental degradation, requires prompt action as delay, inaction or negligence on the part of the police or concerned authorities leads to escape of the offenders and loss of the evidence. Any disobedience of directions of law regarding investigation of cognizable offences by any police official is also an offence punishable under Section 166 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and action against the defaulting officers be taken accordingly.
NGT has also issued a notice to the government authorities on 27th May 2022 informing them that this matter will be listed again on 24th August 2022 for further consideration and in default of their appearance on this date, the matter will be heard and determined in their absence.
Please find below images of the NGT Notice to government authorities and the Order.
SERVING OF NGT ORDER & NOTICE TO THE GOVERNMENT
On 1st June 2022, members of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement went personally to the government offices in Chandigarh, Panchkula, Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad and Nuh to serve the NGT order and notice to 15 government authorities mentioned in the court order dated 23rd May 2022. We have given a letter from the side of Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement to the Joint Committee members constituted by NGT offering our assistance to show the 16 sites of illegal mining in Gurugram, Nuh and Faridabad Aravallis. Our aim is to help the Joint Committee representatives in seeing the degradation being done to the Aravallis by stone and sand mining taking place illegally.
A 2018 report by the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee had stated that 25 per cent of the Aravalli range in Rajasthan has been lost due to mining since 1967-68. With the Aravalli hills in Gurugram, Faridabad and Nuh districts being destroyed due to illegal mining, the result is that more gaps are being created in the Aravallis from where the Thar desert is moving closer towards Delhi and NCR cities. We hope that this strict court order gets the government authorities to take steps to protect the Aravallis and we can save NCR’s green lungs, only shield against desertification, critical water recharge zone, biodiversity hotspot and wildlife habitat from further destruction.
One thought on “NGT DIRECTS GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE ILLEGAL MINING IN HARYANA ARAVALLIS”