Green tribunal bans illegal coastal sand mining

Pune, Feb 5: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered an immediate ban on all illegal sand mining in the coastal areas and those falling in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ), an activist said here Wednesday.

The order by a division bench of the NGT Western Zone, comprising Justice V.R. Kingaonkar and expert member Ajay A. Deshpande, will be applicable to Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, said applicant and Awaaz Foundation chief Sumaira Ali.

Last year, the Awaaz Foundation had filed a complaint against illegal coastal sand mining and the existence of sand mafias in the coastal areas of Maharashtra before the NGT, Pune.

The NGT has ordered an immediate ban on all sand mining in areas under the CRZ, especially in the coastal districts of the state — Thane, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Sindhudurg and Navi Mumbai.

The division bench has restrained the concerned authorities from issuing any further auction notices, granting mining licenses/permissions in the CRZ areas, Ali said.

In an affidavit filed before the NGT, Navi Mumbai Assistant Commissioner of Police Suresh Pawar said 57 cases of illegal sand mining have been registered, but did not provide details of the seizure and the locations from where it was extracted.

The NGT said that from the records, it was difficult to ascertain the areas from where the sand was being extracted and what kind of monitoring to check mining was in place.

Also, there was nothing on record to show that licences have been issued to the traditional communities by the (Raigad) collector or other areas, the NGT said.

“We may mention that no sand mining is permitted in the coastal areas under the CRZ notification except for small quantity as permissible to the traditional fishermen community under the specific licences issued by the collector for short duration and that too for extraction of sand manually,” the NGT bench said.

The evidence, including photographs, showed that there is heavy mining activity in the coastal areas which was prima facie not being monitored effectively.

The NGT has directed the concerned agencies to initiate stern action against the violators and file their respective status reports by March 11, the date of the next hearing.

IANS