The National Green Tribunal has issued directions to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s (MoEF&CC) Regional Office, Chandigarh, the Chief Secretary, Haryana, Environment Department, Haryana and the District Magistrate, to take remedial action against illegal mining by DSP Associates, Sonipat by diverting the natural flow of the river.
The Principal bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “The fact that mining was continuing for three years without any action by the statutory regulators which shows the failure of the statutory regulatory mechanism, for which remedial action needs to be taken with the intervention of the higher authorities by the Government.”
The application has been filed by Krishan Chander against illegal mining by DSP Associates, Sonipat by diverting the natural flow of the river by digging a man-made pit i.e. 20 ft. deep and 1 km long and making a bund to stop the natural river flow.
The applicant relied on the judgement of State (NCT of Delhi) v. Sanjay, (2014) 9 SCC 772, which held that apart from action under the mining laws, illegal mining involves an offence of theft which requires the concerned police to take remedial action by registration of criminal offence.
In the course of arguments and assessment, the tribunal finds that all relevant factors have not been taken into account while fixing compensation. Neither the cost of restoration is mentioned nor has an action plan for restoration been provided. The principle of deterrence has also not been involved.
The tribunal disposed of the application with certain directions-
i. The Chief Secretary, Haryana may review the existing monitoring mechanism in the light of facts disclosed in the present case and directions of this Tribunal on the subject.
ii. The Committee already constituted, with the addition of Regional Officer, MoEF&CC, Chandigarh may revisit the compensation as per principles referred to above and give a report to the Chief Secretary, Haryana within two months for further follow-up action in coordination with the concerned statutory authorities
iii. The Chief Secretary may also look into the conduct of erring officers who failed to take action against illegal mining for more than three years and who gave a false report to this Tribunal earlier that there was no illegal mining.
iv. The Environment Department, Haryana along with the District Magistrate, Sonipat may prepare and execute a restoration plan and the cost thereof may be met out of the compensation already recovered and which may be recovered further.
v. The Chief Secretary may ensure further legal action including prosecution and blacklisting of the unit involved in illegal mining to enforce the rule of law.
vi. The amount to the credit of the Respondent No. 10 available with the State may not be released till the decision of the Chief Secretary, Haryana