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NGT slaps Rs 50 cr penalty on irrigation dept for illegal sand mining from Adyapady and Shamburu Dam

NGT slaps Rs 50 cr penalty on irrigation dept for illegal sand mining from Adyapady and Shamburu Dam

Mangalore Today News Network

Mangaluru, March 27, 2023: The Irrigation Department has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 50 crore for illegal sand extraction from two dams (Adyapady Dam on Phalguni River and Shamburu Dam on Nethravati river) in the guise of desilting with the NGT ordering the chief secretary to put an end to exemptions from rules given to desilting work involving commercial aspect.

Hearing a petition by Sarvabhoum Bagali, the tribunal underscored that the government cannot sidestep the rules laid down by the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification and pulled up the state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) for remaining a mute spectator.

sand mining

Representative Image

Bagali had challenged a work order issued by the Dakshina Kannada District Sand Monitoring Committee for extraction of sand from Adyapady Dam on Phalguni River in Mangaluru taluk and Shamburu Dam on Nethravati river in Bantwal taluk. The work order was given to the Karnataka State Mineral Corporation Limited to extract 14.51 lakh tonnes of sand and sell it commercially and to the government.

Officials argued that dredging for removal of silt doesn’t come under the EIA rules while Bagali contended exemption given in the notification doesn’t apply in cases where commercial sale of sand was involved.

A bench of Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member Satyagopal Korlapati noted that the work order explicitly talks of the sale of sand. "The work order itself is very clear that in the garb of dredging and desilting, sand mining is being done," it said, adding that prior environmental clearance from SEIAA is required. "In spite of the same, the SEIAA remains as a mute spectator.

Moreover, the bench noted that the Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines require the government to prepare a "detailed study" to verify the economic viability and environmental sustainability of the proposed dredging.

"A penalty of Rs 50 crore is to be paid by the Irrigation Department.. to the Central Pollution Control Board and the said amount will be utilised for pollution abatement in the river stretches with priority to the stretches in and around Bengaluru," the order said.

The NGT said the deputy commissioner’s work orders were in "gross violation" of the rules. "The chief secretary is directed to issue orders to the Collectors to follow all rules and.. to instruct them that desilting/dredging of water bodies/rivers/reservoirs/waterways shall not be permitted without the prior Environmental Clearance when the desilted/dredged material is sold either to the public or for the government projects," it said.

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