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Committee finds evidence of illegal sand mining in Gautam Buddha Nagar

A photograph in the report by the committee that inquired into alleged illegal sand mining in Gautam Buddha Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, showing sand storage and stocks on the way to Kundli village.
A photograph in the report by the committee that inquired into alleged illegal sand mining in Gautam Buddha Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, showing sand storage and stocks on the way to Kundli village.
 
A three-member constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has said in its report that it was evident that rampant, unscientific and illegal mining of sand had been going on at various locations in the Gautam Buddha Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh along the Yamuna river.
 
In its report submitted to the Ministry today, the committee said this was in  violation of the environmental regulations, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and the directions given by the Supreme Court, the High Court of Allahabad and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi. 
 
The Ministry had constituted the committee to inquire into the adverse environmental impact of the alleged illegal sand mining in the Gautam Buddha Nagar of Uttar Pradesh widely reported by the media in the past few days.
 
The committee was headed by Dr. Saroj, Director, MoEF and included Mr G.C. Meena, Deputy Collector of Mines, Incharge Dehradun office of IBM, Dehradun and Mr K. K. Garg, Director, Regional Office of MoEF, Lucknow.
 
The committee, along with three mining officials from the Uttar Pradesh government, made visits to various sites in the district to ascertain the factual position of illegal sand mining on August 7 along the rivers Yamuna and Hindon.
 
Among other places, they visited Hindon Bridge near Kisan Chowk, Yamuna Bridge (Zuppa village) on Hamid Pur – Palval Road, Jewar, Mamnathal village (confluence of river Yamuna and Hindon) , Gaddi – Samastipur Village, Kundli Village, Raipur Khadar and Yakutpur.
 
At Hindon Bridge near Kisan Chowk, the committee found that both the banks were covered with full grown grass and it appeared no sand mining had taken place.
 
At Yamuna Bridge (Zuppa village) on Hamid Pur – Palval Road, Jewar, while travelling towards the bridge, they observed that, at various places on both sides of the road scattered heaps of sand were lying. 
 
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Villagers told the committee that sand mining had been carried out in recent times. They also said some of the villagers had lent their farms for storing the sand, which is lifted as and when it is economically viable.
 
On the Yamuna Bridge, scattered heaps of sand were visible along with signs of lifting of the material. The impressions of movement of vehicles were also visible, the report said.
 
At Mamnathal village (confluence of river Yamuna and Hindon), deep excavated areas were noticed along the bank of river Yamuna indicating lifting of sand. 
 
"The path towards the bank had impressions of movement of heavy vehicles. At a distance of about 1 km. there was a small building where a JCB was seen," it said.
 
At Gaddi – Samastipur, the committee saw sand lying on both sides of the path towards the villages. "It was also observed that sand was stored at few places in these villages. At the site of bank of river heaps of sand mine was stored and visible impressions of lifting the sand was noticed. The water was seen just adjacent to these heaps of sand. It was informed by one of the villager that there was no water till late night of 6th August and all of sudden water was pumped in huge quantity," the report said.
 
"Based on the discussions with the villagers and also by visual observations, it appears that excavated area has been filled with water," it said.
 
The committee said that, while approaching Kundli, they noticed that there were lots of sand storage/stocks.
 
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At Yakutpur, they observed that sand mining was evident on the bank of river and heaps of sand was seen in the vicinity of the village.
 
The following is the further course of action suggested by the committee:
 
"(i) As per the directions given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 27th February, 2012 all State Governments need to frame Minor Mineral Concession Rules within a period of six months and submit their compliance report. The recommendation for river bed mining need to be adopted:
 
"The recommendations for river bed mining need to be adopted: 
 
(a) In the case of mining leases for riverbed sand mining, 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 are effectively monitored by the respective 
Regulatory Authorities. 
 
(b) The depth of mining may be restricted to 3m/water level, whichever is less. 
 
(c) For carrying out mining in proximity to any bridge and/or embankment, appropriate safety zone should be worked out on case to case basis, taking into account the structural parameters, locational aspects, flow rate etc. and no mining should be carried out in the safety zone so worked out. 
 
(ii) As per Minor Mineral Concession Rules of U.P., the State Govt. is required to grant mine lease area with Khasra Nos. for undertaking mining activities. The mine lease granted should have coordinates identified (Latitude and Longitude). 
 
(iii) The proponent should also prepare a mine plan which should be duly approved by the State Department of Mines & Geology.
 
(iv) As per the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order dated 27th February, 2012, all mine leases irrespective of area should obtain EC as per EIA Notification, 2006.
 
(v) While seeking environmental clearance for carrying out sand mining activity the following should be adopted: 
 
- Prior environmental clearance is mandatory from MoEF/SEIAA irrespective of the mine lease area. 
 
- Need to undertake a study for cumulative impact due to sand mining and adopt cluster approach. ‘Cluster Approach’ to be adopted for collection of baseline data, which shall adequately cover every single Lease Area under consideration before seeking Environmental Clearance. The cumulative impact study should emphasise on pollution 
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load due to transportation, available infrastructure for transportation, details of transportation of mined out materials as per the Indian Road Congress for both the ways (Loaded as well as unloaded trucks) rate of sedimentation etc. 
 
- Need to undertake an annual replenishment study from recognised institution. In case the replenishment is low the mining activity / production levels shall accordingly be decreased / stopped. 
 
- No in-stream mining should be permitted as it affects the aquatic life. 
 
In case the State Government wishes to undertake in-stream mining they need to have a study conducted from recognised Institution to examine the impact of mining of plankton, benthic flora and fauna, turbidity downstream and other related environmental parameters.
 
(vi) Regular monitoring of the mining activity to ensure that effective compliance of stipulated environmental conditions and are abiding to the Minor Mineral Concession Rules of the State Government.
 
(vii) Appropriate Disaster Management safeguards in vIew of the high seismicity of the area."
 
NNN
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