The NGT has reinforced its ban on mining along the banks of Ganga in Haridwar while expressing “anguish” that despite the tribunal’s orders the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEF) gave environmental clearances to the Uttarakhand forest development corporation (UFDC) to continue mining in the region. The NGT said that mining licenses have to be restrained until a study by the Forest Research Institute (FRI) on mined areas of rivers is completed.
The NGT had banned illegal mining of minor minerals like sand in seven permitted sites in Haridwar in 2015 after a plea that illegal mining was damaging the environment and ecology of the river and also affecting the movement of wildlife. The MoEF had earlier observed before the bench that a pilot study of mined areas in 2016 by the FRI had provided “insufficient insight” on whether mining should be allowed to continue or not since the data on the river bed material was based on one time data collection. The MoEF had suggested that the study be taken at the same time of the year in the rivers at least for three years.
The bench observed that the Union ministry had issued show cause notices to the project proponent (UFDC, in this case) in July last year declaring that no mining activity would be permitted until the FRI study for three years is conducted. The bench added that the MoEF failed to take further action on the show cause notices.