The National Green Tribunal has directed the Punjab government to stop illegal sand mining in Rupnagar district and take action against the erring officers within three months. Expressing concern over rampant mining, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed Punjab chief secretary to appear before it on March 7 with a compliance report on the issue.
It directed the state government 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. NGT 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 per cent 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," it said. The tribunal'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 said that mining was being done in an unscientific manner and beyond the permitted depth. It 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 was formed by the tribunal on October 20, 2018, 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.
(With inputs from agencies.)