Slamming the Rajasthan government, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a bailable warrant against the state chief wildlife conservator for failing to send a representative during the hearing of a plea on illegal sand mining in the National Chambal Sanctuary.
In an order issued on December 23, the NGT’s principal bench in New Delhi has also expressed its dissatisfaction over the affidavit submitted by the Rajasthan government. The sanctuary is located in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district.
While hearing the petition of an NGO ‘Tiger Protection Group’, the tribunal took a stern view on the absence of any representative from Rajasthan.
The NGO has sought an end to sand mining and other activities along the river bank inside the sanctuary. Under section 19 (4)(a) of NGT Act 2010 with order XVI rule 10(3) and section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the principal bench issued the bailable warrant of ` 25,000 against the chief wildlife conservator.The tribunal has posted the matter to January 29.
In its order, the tribunal has questioned the state government about the last paragraph of the affidavit. The Rajasthan government, in the last paragraph, had stated that ‘the national Chambal sanctuary is 625 sq km and in such a long stretch, there is possibility of sand mining and illegal fishing etc in a hidden way. If any illegal activity has been carried out by any person, the state has already National Chambal Sanctuary is the main area for the species reintroduction program of the crocodilian species Gavialis gangeticus (Gharial) Chambal supports 8 rare turtle species out of the 26 found in the country Chambal supports more than adequate legal action in accordance with law.’ The Rajasthan government had submitted the affidavit in compliance with the October 9 NGT order.
In an earlier order on November 26, the NGT had observed that the 320 resident and migrant birds. It is one of the few places to spot the Platanista gangetica - Gangetic Dolphins — the national aquatic animal It is also the only known place where nesting of Indian Skimmers has been recorded in large numbers. state’s reply lacked many particulars, especially in paragraph 2 and 7. The government in para 2 of the affidavit had stated that adequate mechanism has been adopted to curb the illegal mining and fishing menace. In para 7, it stated that joint operations were carried out with the help of mining, police, traffic, local administration and public representatives, and they have already installed adequate mechanism to curb the menace of illegal activities and fishing.
The NGT had asked Rajasthan to submit details regarding recruitment of staff, rights of people living within the sanctuary area and cases of illegal sand mining. It also asked the government to explain the persons involved in illegal mining as stated in the last paragraph of the affidavit.
Meanwhile, a top sanctuary official said illegal mining cases inside Chambal are now negligible with effective action by forest and police departments. “We have taken adequate measures to curb illegal mining. We have deployed forest guards, purchased vehicles and boats for patrolling,” deputy conservator of forest (wildlife), National Chambal Sanctuary, Jai Kishan Jat said. He, however, agreed that discreetly some minor incidents by locals do occur there.
“We have submitted our replies thrice on January 1, March 11 and November 13. We will present our case at NGT on the next hearing,” Jat said.
In 2012, a new division was constituted for the National Chambal Sanctuary. Of the sanctioned 147 posts for the division, 47 are lying vacant. The staff will manage and guard the sanctuary spread over an area of 625 sq km.