The National Green Tribunal today banned illegal extraction of minor minerals through mechanised mining in Gonda and Faizabad districts of Uttar Pradesh and ordered a probe into the unauthorised activities there. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered that there should be no mining activity within 50 metres from the end of the railway track on Mankapur in Faizabad and 150 metres from railway or any other bridges. The tribunal passed the judgement on the plea filed by Lok Sabha MP Kirti Vardhan Singh from Gonda who had written to it seeking ban on large-scale illegal sand mining going on in his constituency in Gonda and railway track on Mankapur in Faizabad. In a detailed verdict, the bench said that mechanical extraction of minor minerals in large quantity near the railway track was bound to endanger not only the environment and ecology of that area but also enhance the chances of collapsing of the track. "The forest area should be demarcated and be in accordance with the conservation plan, such forest area should be duly protected against illegal, unauthorised and mechanised mining," the bench, also comprising Expert Member B S Sajwan, said. The NGT constituted a team comprising Gonda Deputy Commissioner, senior officer from UP Pollution Control Board senior scientist from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology, Bhubaneswar, senior most officer from Department of Geology and Mining of UP government and an expert officer from the Environment Ministry. The green body also directed the panel to investigate the role of former UP minister Vinod Kumar Singh and his brother Narendra Singh while conducting the probe and state whether they have any role in illegal mining activity or not. "The committee shall make a complete and comprehensive study and submit an exhaustive status report before the tribunal.
In this report, all the persons shall be identified who are or/and have been involved,directly or indirectly in illegal and mechanical mining or otherwise, with their complete details," the bench said. It should also report about the damage caused to the environment in the nearby villages, quantum of money required for restoration and also state the loss of revenue to the state government in terms of minerals and revenue within four weeks, the bench said. The tribunal had appointed advocate Rachit Mittal as amicus curiae to assist the green panel in the matter.
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