Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Gauhati High Court directs Chief Forest Conservator of Assam to guard against illegal mining at Dakshin Krishnapur river bank

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The Gauhati High Court has directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Assam, to call for periodical reports from the concerned Range Forest Officer and shall monitor and ensure that no illegal mining takes place in the river bank of Dakshin Krishnapur.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Rashmin Manharbhai Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking direction to the respondent Authorities to stop illegal river sand mining at Village Dakshin Krishnapur of Cachar District, more particularly, in connection to the communication dated 30.01.2021 issued by the District Development Commissioner, Cachar.

In response to the notice issued by the High Court, an affidavit-in-opposition came to be filed by the respondent No.2 (Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Assam , Rehabari) on 19.08.2021, wherein it was denied that there is any illegal mining. The respondent No.3 (Deputy Commissioner , Cachar) has also filed an affidavitin-opposition dated 25.11.2021 and has brought on record the action taken and more particularly it is averred that excavation was not permitted beyond the demarcated area. The said affidavit has been countered by the petitioner byway of filing an affidavit-in-reply dated 10.02.2022.

Pursuant to the same, a further order came to be passed by the High Courton 04.03.2022, wherein the respondent No.3 was directed to file an affidavit.

Accordingly, the respondent No.3 has filed an affidavit on 04.04.2022,wherein it is averred that appropriate actions have been taken by the concerned Divisional Forest Officer, Cachar on 04.03.2021 against any illegal mining.Further orders came to be passed on 05.08.2022 and 02.09.2022 directing the authorities to bring on record the current position/present status of the mining.

By an affidavit dated 11.11.2022, the respondents have filed an affidavit, wherein it is averred thus:-

“2. That vide Order dated 05.08.2022 and 02.09.2022 passed by theHon’ble Court, it was directed that an affidavit be filed to bring on record a detailed and up-to-date report regarding the alleged illegal sand mining in the river bed of Dakshin Krishnapur. The Divisional Forest Officer, Cacharhas directed the Range Office, Monierkhal Range, Sonai to take strict action against any illegalities. Further, the Range Officer, Protection Squad Range,Silchar was also directed to keep a strict vigil at the Sonabarighat DakshinKrishnapur Minor Mineral Unit-I (Clay) mining area against illegal digging and selling of soil and sand of the river bank at Dakshin Krishnapur nearBye Pass Bridge. No illegal sand mining could be found to be carried out in the river bank. All mining activities in the Sonabarighat Dakshin KrishnapurMinor Mineral Unit-I (Clay) mining area are carried out as per the guidelines of State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and the approved mining plan. Presently, the minor mineral unit is settled with Sri Babul Haque Laskar for the period of 17.12.2020 to 17.12.2022. The mining area can be seen from the GPS coordinates plotted in the google map. The Range Officeshall maintain strict vigil to ensure that there is no illegal mining. 
3. That the deponent humbly begs to state that in the facts and circumstances as narrated herein above, it appears that presently, there is no illegal mining in the concerned area due to the steps taken by the Department And the constant vigil maintained at the site and the deponent is committed to ensure that such measures continue to be taken to prevent any such illegal activities in the future.”

In light of the aforesaid, the grievance ventilated by the petitioner stands redressed. However, even while disposing of this petition, the respondents are directed by the High Court to adhere to the statements made in the affidavit and keep constant vigil over any illegal mining, beyond the demarcated area.

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