TT: Recently, the National Green Tribunal issued a blanket ban on sand mining without environment clearance. Your comments.
Shankar: Letís go back a little. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) issued a circular on February 27, 2012, saying sand mining canít be done without environment clearance. The tribunalís fiat also brought brick kilns under its purview. So any kind of mining operation requires green clearance now
How is the ban useful?
For Jharkhand, itís great news. Chotanagpur plateau will be saved from flooding. Rivers will keep to their course. In a lot of places, it will recharge groundwater table
How is the state planning to execute the ban?
Our board has directed the five regional offices to crack down on sand mining units operating without environment clearance or without our consent
What if units keep on operating?
We have sought administrative help in closing them down. We are working under a deadline ó the CPCB has asked us to submit a compliance report within three weeks
Will infrastructure development be hit?
True, ongoing work will be temporarily affected but we canít bypass the big picture. Sand mining is causing too big a damage
We often hear about sand mining mafia. What is the truth?
I canít comment on this. The board can look only into matters related to pollution or illegal functioning of units
There is a fear that sand prices will shoot skywards now.
If illegal sand mining stops, there may be an impact on price. But comments are premature now
So, how should legal sand miners obtain environment clearance?
They must draft a proposal and place it before a state-level panel for environment clearance
What happens once they do?
The state mining department will decide how to tackle each case
Will there be any environment assessment after a year or two?
Yes, it can be considered. In fact, we can also assess now how sand mining has affected Jharkhand. An assessment after a year will help us understand how complying with the tribunal has helped us