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NGT bans quarrying on Nandhaur river in Uttarakhand

The ban rekindles issues of employment for labourers who travel from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the mining season, which begins in October and lasts until May.

dehradun Updated: Dec 20, 2018 16:15 IST
Abhinav Madhwal
Abhinav Madhwal
Hindustan Times, Haldwani
uttarakhand,nandhaur river,quarrying on nandhaur river
The petitioners have said that the government must define the limits of the eco-sensitive zone of the Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary.(HT Photo )

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has put a stop on quarrying on the Nandhaur river citing its proximity to the Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary in Nainital district, barely a month after the process of extracting sand and gravel for construction purposes had begun for the current season.

The ban rekindles issues of employment for labourers who travel from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the mining season, which begins in October and lasts until May.

The Forest Development Corporation (FDC) had in late April allowed the quarrying following the state government’s repeated attempts at seeking necessary clearances from the Union ministry of forest and environment after the 10-year lease for quarrying had ended in 2016.

But the NGT, which was looking into a plea challenging the quarrying on the banks of the river, accepted the petitioner’s contention that the site of quarrying was within 10km of the sanctuary, whose boundaries establishing the limits of eco-sensitive zone had still not been determined by the state government.

Petitioners Nandan Singh and Bahadur Singh of Chorgaliya have said that the government must define the eco-sensitive zone of the wildlife sanctuary, which was created in 2012.

Local residents blame the state government while pointing out the hardship the ban would impose on those who have already purchased tractors and dumpers for quarrying activities.

Pradeep Fartyal, a former zila panchayat member from Chorgaliya, said around 80 tractors and dumpers have been purchased in the past three months.

“People will have to pay the loan instalments while there will be no earning due to the ban.”

The government had in April allowed 580 vehicles to quarry on a first-come-first-served basis. There are about 2,900 vehicles in Nainital registered to carry out quarrying activities.

Regional manager of the forest development corporation MPS Bisht said the department would review the situation. “The state government will present its case on behalf of the people before the NGT so that quarrying-related activities can resume,” he said.

Rajpal Legha, deputy director, mines, Kumaon region, said the department had obtained the clearance from the National Board for Wildlife, and will present it before the tribunal to advance its case for the resumption of quarrying.

“We have not seen the order yet and will decide on the future course of action once we have gone through it,” Legha told HT.

Deep Chandra Thuwal, a trader from Chorgaliya, said the ban is “not practical” as quarrying “does not impact the environment”. “Quarrying (and mining) is the biggest source of employment for the people in this area,” he said, adding that the state must ask the NGT to lift the ban.

First Published: Dec 20, 2018 16:15 IST