‘Illegal sand mining back with vengeance’: Court raps Goa for ignoring orders
Noting that illegal sand mining has “returned with a vengeance”, the Bombay High Court has issued contempt notices to Goa chief secretary and other authorities for allegedly violating its orders on curbing illegal sand mining in the state.
Hearing a petition filed by the Goa River Sand Protectors Network, a collective of activists and environmentalists who have been campaigning against illegal sand extractions from the river beds in Goa, the court noted that there was evidence that its orders were not being followed and issued notices to the state chief secretary Parimal Rai, the Director Mines and Geology and the Director General of Police asking why action should not be initiated against them for contempt of court.
“At least, prima facie, we find that our orders in relation to sand mining are not being complied with. The material placed on record, at least, prima facie, indicates that illegal sand mining has returned with vengeance and the authorities, who, in the past had done commendable work in preventing it, appear to have let down the guard,” the high court noted.
“We are constrained to issue notice to the respondents to show cause as to why action under the Contempt of Courts Act be not initiated against them. Though the personal presence of the authorities is dispensed with, for the present, the respondents file their responses on or before January 11, without seeking any extension of time. For any reason, if the responses cannot be filed by January 11 by any of the authorities, then they will personally remain present to submit their say in the matter,” the high court bench of Justice MS Sonak and MS Jawalkar said.
In December last year the high court, in a detailed judgment, issued a series of directions to the Goa government to undertake regular patrolling through flying squads at all stretches of rivers.
While sand mining stopped for a while, the activists have alleged that it has since resumed and the authorities have again begun to ignore the issue.
Sand mining in Goa is banned by the National Green Tribunal which has directed that proper environmental licences be issued to the operators before the extraction can be renewed.