Northeast states want manual sand mining to be allowed

Posted By: IANS
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Agartala/Aizawl, Sep 27: Four northeastern state governments are unhappy with the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) ruling that bans sand mining in river beds across the country without the clearance of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).

Ministers and officials of Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur have urged the tribunal to withdraw its verdict, considering the ground situation in the northeastern region of India.

Tripura Forest and Industries Minister Jitendra Choudhury said Friday that his state government has asked the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to remove its regulation.

"We have banned mining of sand and silt-mud in river beds and rivulets through the machines. But manual mining of sand and silt-mud can continue, otherwise it would affect the construction works in a big way," Choudhury said.

He said the Tripura government has undertaken plantations in the hills and mountains to keep the originality of the rivers and rivulets.

"The (Tripura) government has also sent a project report to the union ministry of shipping for sanction to increase the navigation of the main rivers in Tripura, specially Gomti and Howra," Choudhury said.

According to the minister, the state-owned RITES (Rail India Technical and Economic Service) has recently submitted a detailed project report (DPR) to raise the navigation in the Gomti and Howra rivers.

The RITES report states it would require at least Rs.20 crore to conduct dredging and build terminal in the two rivers.

The issue of the NGT's ban on sand mining across the country was also discussed in the Tripura assembly Thursday.

Ministers and officials of the Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur governments separately told IANS that in most of the northeastern states manual mining of sand and silt-mud in river beds and rivulets was going on, and no machineries were used for this purpose.

"The NGT without studying the situation in the northeast region has issued the directives (order No. 171-2013) in general for the entire country including this mountainous region," a Mizoram forest department official said in Aizawl, requesting anonymity.

"Obtaining clearance from the MoEF in New Delhi for sand mining in Mizoram would be a Himalayan task for the people in the northeastern states," the official added.

The issue of the NGT's ban on sand mining across the country was also discussed.

The green tribunal last month issued a nationwide suspension of river bed sand mining unless it has clearance from the MoEF.

The interim order came on a petition filed by the NGT Bar Association as a response to the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who was supervising a drive against illegal sand mining in Gautam Budh Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh.


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