| Sand being loaded to a truck along the banks of the Umtyngngar river in East Khasi Hills district. File picture |
Shillong, Oct. 28: Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills district today promulgated an order prohibiting mining activity or removal of sand from riverbeds without obtaining environmental clearance.
The promulgation order was passed under Section 144 CrPC, and is in compliance with the order received from the National Green Tribunal (principal bench), New Delhi.
According to the order, no person, company or authority can undertake mining activity or removal of sand from river beds without obtaining environmental clearances from the Union ministry of environment and forests/State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and a licence from the competent authorities.
In August, the tribunal banned mining or removal of sand from river beds across the country without an environmental clearance.
The tribunal ordered that permission be obtained from the Union ministry of environment and forests or the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority.
The order stated that besides being a threat to the environment, illegal sand mining causes loss to the state exchequer, which may run into several crores of rupees.
The tribunal order is an extension of a Supreme Court ruling in 2012, which stipulated that states/Union Territories should grant lease of minor mineral, including their renewal for an area of less than five hectares, only after getting environmental clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests.
Recently, chief minister Mukul Sangma had said activities concerning people’s livelihood, like sand mining, need not be totally banned, but should be regulated. At the same time, he said other livelihood options should be provided for people to be able to sustain themselves.
“It is not necessary to ban sand mining but what is required is regulation of all these activities. That is why there is a need to converge among the line departments and departments have to identify certain areas which can be allowed for sand and stone quarrying and areas where certain restriction should be imposed,” Sangma had said.