The NGT has directed the state authorities of Jharkhand to take action against the damage being caused to the hills of Raj Mahal (Sahebganj Dist.), Jharkhand by illegal mining and operation of stone crushers.
The NGT, Eastern Zone Bench (EZ) initiated proceedings in the matter, based on a letter sent by one Ramchandra Chaurasia. The Tribunal (EZ) directed the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) and the Divisional Forest Officer, Sahebganj, to jointly look into the matter and take appropriate actions.
The Tribunal dealt with a similar issue in another matter (Syed Arshad Nasar v. Union of India & Ors). In Syed Arshad Nasar, a Joint Committee comprising of representatives from the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board), MoEF&CC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), SEIAA (State Environment Impact Assessment Authority), Jharkhand, was constituted by the Tribunal to look into the matter.
The Committee formed in Syed Arshad Nasar, submitted an inspection report dated 6th june 2019 on the issue in the present case as well. Certain recommendations formed a part of the report, such as immediate closure of abandoned mines, arrangement of pollution control systems near site, increasing the number of technical staff engineers in JSPCB, and immediately stopping illegal stone crushers from causing menace to the ecosystem and other sensitive flora and fauna.
The Member Secretary, JSPCB informed the Tribunal during the hearing that there are 407 stone crushers and 300 mines, and that as per his information, most were compliant with the environmental norms. However, the Bench (EZ) observed that no data was provided to distinguish between the compliant and non-compliant stone crushers and mines. The joint Committee also did not give any specific particulars about the compliance of environmental norms, which needed to be done by the individual stone crushers and mines.
In view of the deficiency in the report, the Tribunal (EZ) directed the Committee to furnish a further report with specific details of non-conforming stone crushers and mines. JSPCB was also told to take action against non-conforming stone crushers and mines such as assessing and recovering compensation for damage to the environment on 'Polluter Pays' principle. JSBCP was directed to submit a report on action taken within a month.
The matter will be next heard on 8th November 2019, along with two other matters (Syed Arshad Nasar v. Union of India & Ors, Pradeep Kumar Singh v. State of Jharkhand), dealing with a similar issue.