Red flag against 36 UP sand min­ing projects

RULES FLOUTED Projects got nod based on Re­gional En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact As­sess­ment

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - Jayashree Nandi

NEW DELHI: The Na­tional Green Tri­bunal (NGT) has with­held the en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance (EC) given to at least 36 sand min­ing projects in Ut­tar Pradesh on the ground that it was ob­tained in vi­o­la­tion of rules spec­i­fied in the En­vi­ron­ment Im­pact As­sess­ment (EIA) no­ti­fi­ca­tion of 2006.

The mines, lo­cated in the flood­plains of the Ken, Ya­muna and Betwa rivers, had got a “Re­gional En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact As­sess­ment (REIA)” done by a pri­vate con­sul­tant. Based on the REIA, many projects were granted en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance by the Statelevel En­vi­ron­ment Im­pact As­sess­ment Au­thor­ity (SEAC).

But ac­cord­ing to the EIA 2006 no­ti­fi­ca­tion, there is no con­cept called REIA. Each sand min­ing project is re­quired to sub­mit an in­di­vid­ual EIA re­port, which is to be ap­praised in­di­vid­u­ally by the SEAC. Some lawyers and com­peti­tors of the pri­vate EIA con­sul­tant who did the REIA had no­ticed the aber­ra­tion and in­formed SEAC about it.

Ac­cord­ing to an ap­peal filed be­fore the NGT by Amit Upad­hyay on De­cem­ber 12 against the ECS, about 12 sand min­ing projects were granted clear­ance by the SEAC even be­fore the terms of ref­er­ence (TOR) was is­sued. The TOR is is­sued by the SEAC as soon as a project ap­plies for EC, based on which the EIA re­port is drafted and pub­lic hear­ings are con­ducted.

“It is sub­mit­ted that the non-is­suance of the terms of ref­er­ence ren­ders the en­tire project in­el­i­gi­ble...,” the ap­pli­ca­tion said. “Prima-fa­cie, the grant of en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance does not ap­pear to be con­sis­tent with law. Let the SEAC fur­nish a re­port as to why en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance be not set aside. We also di­rect the min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment, for­est and cli­mate change to ex­am­ine the mat­ter and fur­nish a de­tailed re­port about the le­gal­ity of the pro­ce­dure fol­lowed,” the NGT bench said in its De­cem­ber 17 or­der. It said that en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance may not be given nod be­fore these re­ports are filed. Most of the 36 il­le­gal projects are lo­cated in Hamir­pur, Banda, Jhalon, Kaushambi and Kan­pur.

Kanchi Kohli, le­gal re­searcher with Cen­tre for Pol­icy Re­search, said there were many de­lib­er­ate vi­o­la­tions, but at times ma­jor lapses hap­pened be­cause of sud­den changes in pol­icy. “There was a pro­posal for clus­ter-level min­ing and im­pact as­sess­ment for it, but that no­ti­fi­ca­tion was quashed by the NGT in De­cem­ber 2018...”

HT PHOTO

Each sand min­ing project is re­quired to sub­mit an in­di­vid­ual En­vi­ron­ment Im­pact As­sess­ment re­port.

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