The green panel said it is the duty of the government to provide complete protection to the natural resources as a trustee of the public at large.
"Moreover, even a policy to give free sand as welfare measure cannot justify unregulated mining unmindful of impact on environment. If in the course of mining, damage is caused, the same must be recovered from such violators. Authorities cannot avoid their duty under the environmental law to restore the damage which is a duty to future generations," the bench said, in a recent order.
It also constituted a committee comprising Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), National Institute of Mines, Dhanbad, IIT Roorkee and Madras School of Economics to undertake environment damage assessment within three months and furnish a report to this Tribunal.
"The chief secretary may also prepare a report about the particulars of the licences granted for sand mining in the whole state of Andhra Pradesh and estimated amount of sand extracted," the tribunal said.
The tribunal's direction came on a plea filed by Andhra Pradesh resident Anumolu Gandhi, alleging illegal sand mining was causing damage to Krishna, Godavari rivers and their tributaries in the state.