NGT nudges govt to curb illegal sand extraction in Chapora river
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Mines and Geology Department to deposit a performance guarantee of Rs 20 lakh with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within a period of 10 days. NGT has also directed the state government to install CCTV cameras in and around Chapora river, to control illegal sand extraction as per an earlier order of NGT. If the state fails to comply then the performance guarantee of Rs 20 lakh will be forfeited.
The NGT order said, “We direct the state to file an affidavit placing on record the steps taken in terms of the directions issued from time to time. We also direct the state to comply with the order dated July 18, 2018 by which they were required to take steps for installing CCTV cameras for which a private agency had been suggested by the applicant for installation, operation, maintenance and security of the CCTV cameras which the state had undertaking to consider within two months from the date of the order dated November 1, 2017.”
A petition was filed by Saidas Khorjuvekar, Eknath Chopdekar and Albino Fernandes alleging that the rampant sand extraction in the middle of the river and in the vicinity of an uninhabited island especially at night was threatening the island Zuvom de Tuyem. NGT has been hearing the case of illegal sand extraction from Chapora river since 2015. It had ordered installation of CCTV cameras at the banks of Chapora river, near the island Zuvom de Tuyem. However, mines department had expressed its inability to install CCTV cameras citing financial constraints of the state with the NGT refusing to accept the contention.
The plea stated that the island was on the verge of being washed away due to large-scale illegal sand extraction. Mining has badly affected its marine resources, causing extinction of marine life and marine species and destruction of retaining walls due to seepage of salty water. Sea water seepage has further affected agricultural land and dwellings and night-time mining activity is causing noise pollution, affecting villagers’ sleep, they claimed.