Dams · Sand Mining

River Sand Mining in India in 2016–III – Judicial Interventions

Ever since its land mark judgment[1] on February 27, 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) of India is not hearing any particular case pertaining to River sand mining regulation. In 2012 judgment SC had directed all Union Territories and State Governments to seek Environmental Clearances (EC) from Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) for mining minor minerals even in less than 5 ha or renew the same after prior approval from the MoEF&CC. Before this order, mining areas of less than 5 ha were exempted from EC enacted under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)-2006[2].

On Aug 5, 2013, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), has passed an important decision[3] ordering a ban on sand excavation across the country without permission from State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and MoEF&CC. Further in November 2013, interpreting environment as Central Government subject and directing MoEF&CC to frame uniform sand extraction rules, the NGT prohibited State Governments[4] to form mining rules separately.

Since then, in pursuit of compliance to aforesaid orders, NGT and the High Court (HC) in several States have been frequently directing respective Government agencies to facilitate sustainable River sand removal. In this context, these courts have issued a number of orders and decisions all through 2016.

In fact, the sustained hearings in SC and NGT have resulted in first to Sustainable Sand Mining Policy draft 2016[5] and then to formation of Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines 2016[6].

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