The Kolkata bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the immediate closure of 28 sand ghats in East Singhbhum district for not having an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) and consent to operate (CTO). The NGT order will also have a cascading effect on sand ghats across the state operating without ECC and CTO, officials said on Friday.
“This NGT order will be effective on all sand ghats operating without ECC and CTO across the state. We have written to all the district deputy commissioners (DCs) and superintendents of police (SPs) to close down all such sand ghats operating without ECC and CTO in areas under their jurisdiction,” Satya Prakash Negi, special secretary in state industry, mines and geology department told HT.
The district has 40 ghats, of which only four were able to get both the ECC and CTO.
Negi conceded that only 335 of the 672 sand ghats across the state could be issued ECCs till December 23 while the CTO applications for most have been pending with the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB). The department had earned revenue worth Rs 29 crore from sand ghats till February 29.
“The term of state environment impact assessment committee expired in December and the process for its reconstitution is on. State environment and forest department has also issued order for forming district level environment impact assessment committees for the first time. DCs and district mining officers (DMOs) concerned will be the chairman and member secretary of the district level committees. This will speed up the approval and issuance of ECCs henceforth,” said Negi.
And as sand lifting is now on the verge of a standstill , the lease-holders of such ghats are faced with a dilemma – some of them were awarded the sand ghats in 2013 and their three-year mining period will expire on March 31, 2016. In East Singhbhum alone, 25 of the 32 mining agencies now run the risk of their mining period expiring this month.
“This predicament will be solved soon because we’ve sent a proposal to the government recommending calculation of the three-year lease term for sand ghats from the date of agreement with the lease-holders and not from the auction date,” Negi said.
The NGT order came after one Niranjan Sharma filed a case, alleging illegal lifting of sand in East Singhbum. NGT judge Justice Pratap Kumar Roy ordered an immediate ban on sand lifting from all ghats not having ECC and COT while hearing the case. Justice Roy had also written to state chief secretary Rajib Gauba, asking him to take action against contractors running those ghats.