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Uttarakhand High Court directs authorities to stop illegal mining in Gulzarpur Beat

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The Uttarakhand High Court directed the respondent authorities to ensure that the illegal mining activity is completely halted in the forest area of Gulzarpur Beat, and they shall also ensure that illegal roads constructed in the forest are closed, so that no unauthorized person is able to enter the forest.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Alok Kumar Verma herad a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed bringing to light the rampant illegal mining activity being undertaken in forest area of Gulzarpur Beat, which comes under Ramnagar range.

The petitioner has placed on record various photographs which show the mining activity being undertaken in the said forest range, and even the construction of kuccha road with tyre marks, to show the plying of vehicles inside the said forest range.

B.S. Parihar, Standing Counsel for the respondents, who appears on advance notice, has placed before the High Court two compilation and documents. He submits that about 82 challans have been issued in this financial year itself, and fines of about Rs. 4.23 crores have been imposed, out of which, Rs.3.13 crores have been recovered. He further submits that the Forest Range Officers have not been provided with Armed Police Force by the State.

“Mere imposition of fines and seizure of vehicles and dumpers does not explain utter dereliction of duty on the part of the Forest Range Officers/ officials. It is shocking to see that the mining mafias are continuing to carry out their completely illegal activity with impunity in broad daylight, and the respondent-authorities seems to be completely unconcerned by the same”, the Bench observed.

It appears to us that the officers of the Forest Department could be in hand in gloves with the mining mafias.

The Court directed the Secretary, Environment and Forest, Government of Uttarakhand to personally look into the allegations in the petition, and file his own reply within two weeks.

The Divisional Forest Officer, In-charge, Ramnagar Forest Range, Ramnagar, District Nainital, shall also file his affidavit, and shall personally remain present in Court on the next date.

The Matter is listed on 06.04.2023 for further hearing.

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