Rampant illegal sand mining in Noida, says government panel

New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) A government panel Saturday said it had found "rampant" illegal sand mining along the Yamuna river in many parts of Uttar Pradesh's Gautam Budh Nagar district, where now suspended IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal had cracked down on the sand mafia.

The panel was formed Aug 6 by the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) to probe reports of illegal sand mining in the district, adjoining the national capital.

In its report, the three-member panel, headed by Saroj, director in MoEF, said: "It is evident that rampant, unscientific and illegal mining has been going on at various locations in the Gautam Budh Nagar District along the Yamuna river."

This, it said, is in violation of environmental regulations and directions of the Supreme Court and Allahabad High Court.

The panel members along with three mining officials of the Uttar Pradesh government had visited sites along the Yamuna river on Aug 7.

It suggested that state governments, in keeping with apex court directions, need to frame rules for excavating minor minerals in six months and submit their compliance report. It said the recommendation for river bed mining needs to be adopted.

In cases of mining leases for riverbed sand mining, it said the specific river stretches should be identified and "mining permits/lease should be granted stretch wise so that the requisite safeguard measures are duly implemented and effectively monitored by the respective Regulatory Authorities".

It also said that the depth of mining should be restricted to three metres or the water level, whichever is less.

As per the apex court order of Feb 27, 2012, all mine leases should obtain mandatory environment clearance from the ministry or the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), it said.

A study should be undertaken to assess the cumulative impact due to sand mining, it suggested.

The rate of replenishment of the mineral should be assessed by a recognised institution and in case "the replenishment is low the mining activity/production levels shall accordingly be decreased/stopped".

The report also ruled against "in-stream mining" saying it would harm aquatic life. In case a state government wanted to go in for in-stream mining, it has to get a study done from a recognised institution to examine the impact of mining on plankton, the flora and fauna and on environmental parameters.

Nagpal, who was sub divisional magistrate of Noida, was suspended following her orders to demolish the boundary wall of an under construction mosque in Kadalpur village of Greater Noida. But many see the suspension as a direct fallout of her crackdown on the illegal sand mining mafia that has powerful political connections.

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