PCB directs G&M Deptt to stop operation in 554 minor mineral blocks

Brazen violation of SC, NGT directions
Ops goes on without Environment clearance, Mining plan

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Nov 21: Tightening noose around the mafia involved in illegal minor mineral operation in J&K, the Pollution Control Board (J&K) has directed the Director Geology and Mining, to immediately stop the mining activity in all 554 river/nallah-blocks for carrying out illegal activity, without seeking Environment clearance and Mining plan, in brazen violation of Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal (NGT) directives.
Official sources told the EXCELSIOR that J&K Pollution Control Board which has now come under the direct control of Central Pollution Control Board with the creation of Union Territory, going tough in dealing with the illegal mining operation in Jammu and Kashmir, issued strong directions to the Geology and Mining Department, J&K, to stop operation in these minor mineral blocks of rivers, streams and nallahs, otherwise, the G&M Deptt shall be liable for prosecution, as well as Environmental compensation on the basis of “Polluter Pays’ Principle”, in the light of NGT directions and the Central Pollution Control Board guidelines.
The Pollution Control Board order revealed that out of the total 554 minor mineral river blocks in Jammu and Kashmir, no block is fully compliant with the laws governing environmental protection on one count or the other, as none has sought consent letter (NOC) from the PCB, while only 15 minor mineral blocks have mandatory Environment clearance.
As per the data compiled from the G&M Department, it has been observed that out of total, 231 blocks have been auctioned `in open auction’ and five through e-auction mode, while as Letter of Intent (LoI) in respect of 224 auctioned minor mineral blocks has been issued in favour of `successful bidders’.
“It has also been established that extraction of minor minerals (sand/ gravel/stones etc.) from the auctioned blocks has been permitted by the G&M Department without law/proper agreement as none of the blocks is consented by the Pollution Control Board under Sections 25 and 21 of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, respectively, while as, only 15 blocks have Environment clearance,” the order said.
The PCB order has further pointed out that most of the successful bidders carry out the mining operation in absence of proper mining plan. And the permission by the G&M authorities J&K, for mining is not only in brazen violation of law governing environmental protection, but highly detrimental for eco-system and environment, as no scientific method in absence of approved mining plan is adopted for extraction of minor minerals.
The order further said that `interim arrangement’ as communicated earlier by G&M, for extraction of minor mineral can no way be substitute to `statutory requirements’.
“Since the activity permitted by your Department is violative of laws governing environmental protection and in clear defiance of the directions of Supreme Court of India and the NGT, you (Director G&M) are directed stop auctioning such minor mineral blocks which are not consented by the PBC or have no prior Environment clearance of the site,” the order said.
The PCB order has also directed the G&M authorities J&K to rescind the permits approved in favour of `successful bidders’ which do not have Environment clearance and the consent of the Board or either of the two; and ensure no extraction of minor minerals from November 19, 2019, is done in the Jammu and Kashmir in defiance of laws governing Environment protection. In case of failure, the Director G&M Department will be liable for the prosecution as well as environmental compensation as per NGT and CPCB norms/ guidelines.
Chairman, PCB, J&K Suresh Chug when contacted said that PCB, J&K has issued directions to the G&M Department recently to stop illegal operation in minor mineral blocks in J&K. He said for the effective compliance of the order, concerned District Magistrates have been communicated. He said successful bidders can only operate in their respective blocks, after seeking mandatory clearances from the concerned agencies.