The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Goa government to estimate the damage done due to sand mining activities and recover compensation from the polluters.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said rampant mining in areas rich in iron ore and other minerals is threatening the forest cover as well as posing a health hazard to the local population in various parts of Goa.
"More than one-fourth of the state has been affected by mining activity and along with legitimate mining, illegal mining too has come to stay in Goa. And the situation is only going to get worse as the mining companies are gearing up to further increase the amount of ore they extract from the ecologically sensitive regions of the small state," the tribunal said.
It noted that a recent economic survey had cited that more than 2.5 lakh hectares of government land have been taken over by illegal mining activities.
"It is essential to evaluate the damage caused to the environment and the cost required for its restoration. This is a mandate under the 'Polluter Pays' principle which is in accordance with Section 20 of National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
"Therefore, we direct the state of Goa to estimate the cost of damage in such cases and recover compensation from the polluters for restoration/restitution," the bench said.
The tribunal also noted that there were other issues like deterioration in groundwater levels, damage to forests and wildlife and unscientific, besides uncontrolled, sand mining etc.
"Unsatisfactory implementation of the law is clear from the fact that in spite of severe damage, there is no report of any convictions being recorded against the polluters, nor adequate compensation has been recovered for damage caused to the environment. Steps for community involvement are not adequate. There is reluctance even to declare some major cities as fully compliant with the environment norms," it said.
The tribunal directed the Goa chief secretary to appear before it in person on October 21 with the status of compliance.
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