*MoEF’s notifications yet to be taken seriously
JAMMU, Dec 4: Almost all the brick kilns have been operating illegally in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir during the past several months as their licenses have not been renewed till date for want of environment clearance, which has been made mandatory by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in the light of directions issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that prior to issuance of notifications by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest on the basis of National Green Tribunal order, the licenses of the brick kilns were being renewed on the basis of No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) from Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board, Commercial Taxes Department, Geology and Mining Department and Power Development Department.
However, the National Green Tribunal early this year made proper Mining Plan mandatory so that licenses of brick kilns are renewed only after grant of environmental clearance to all the activities associated with quarrying and excavation of minor minerals, sources said.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) vide its Notification No.190 (E) dated January 20, 2016 and OM dated March 15, 2016 read with Notification No. SO 141(E) dated January 15, 2016 mandated the setting up of District Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC) and District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) for the purpose of processing and granting environmental clearance to all activities associated with quarrying and excavation of minor minerals.
It was specially mentioned in these notifications that environment clearance by District Environment Impact Assessment Authority shall henceforth be a pre-requisite for obtaining renewal of brick kiln licenses.
Though District Environment Impact Assessment Authority has been constituted in many districts of Jammu and Kashmir yet in some of the districts no compliance has been shown to the notifications of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, sources said, adding this was also pointed out in a recent meeting convened by the Minister for Industries and Commerce, Chander Prakash Ganga, who expressed concern over delay in constitution of DEIAA and DEAC in some districts of the State.
As per the notifications of the MoEF, District Magistrate is the Chairman of the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) and its mandate is to accord environmental clearance within 45 days of receipt of recommendations from District Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC), which shall meet at least once every month.
Though the validity of licenses of almost all the brick kilns in Jammu and Kashmir expired several months back yet none of them has so far approached the District Expert Appraisal Committees with proper Mining Plan as such they are operating illegally, sources said, adding the Mining Plans have been made mandatory so as to check adverse impact of mining on the environment.
In Jammu district, the Chairman of District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (Deputy Commissioner) vide Notice No.1629-31/DMJ/10/2016-17 dated October 26, 2016 asked all the brick kiln license holders to apply before District Expert Appraisal Committee within 30 days failing which action as under rules shall be initiated, sources said.
It was also brought to the notice of all brick kiln license holders in the district that it shall be mandatory for them to seek renewal of their licenses in terms of both the Jammu and Kashmir Brick Kiln Regulation Act and notifications of Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.
However, none of the brick kiln license holders approached the District Expert Appraisal Committee within the stipulated time-frame in blatant violation of notice of the District Magistrate as well as notifications of MoEF, sources said. Now, the District Magistrate has issued show cause notice mentioning that no brick kiln license holder has applied as per the conditions laid down.
Stating that non-renewal of licenses has rendered brick kilns unauthorised/illegal, the District Magistrate has drawn the attention of licensees towards Section 10 of J&K Brick Kilns (Regulation) Act, 2010, which provides for revocation/suspension of licenses subject to non-compliance with the provisions of the Act.
“Vide powers vested in me under J&K Brick Kilns (Regulation) Act, 2010, all brick kiln owners/license holders operating in Jammu district are called upon to show cause as to why their brick kiln licenses be not revoked for non-compliance of conditions laid down for renewal of brick kiln licenses as per the provisions of the Act”, reads the latest notice of the District Magistrate.
They have been asked to furnish reply to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Law and Order) Jammu by or before December 13, 2016 failing which the brick kilns will be sealed by the administration, sources informed.
“In the absence of environment clearance, the brick kiln owners cannot obtain No Objection Certificates from other agencies namely J&K Pollution Control Board, Power Development Department, Geology and Mining Department and Commercial Taxes Department” sources said.