Laterite mining in Visakhapatnam to be probed by National Green Tribunal panel

  • | Saturday | 31st July, 2021

The NGT also directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF), Andhra Pradesh, to file an independent report regarding the nature of the land, whether any permission under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 is required to carry out mining activity in the area and whether any violation was committed at Bhamidikaloodi. 

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables the creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday appointed a joint committee with a senior official from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Visakhapatnam district collector, DFO, a senior official from the mines and geology department and a senior official from the APPCB to look into the allegations of unauthorised laterite mining at Bhamidikaloodi in Sarugudu panchayat of Mathavaram mandal. The joint committee was asked to submit its report by August 31.

The NGT also directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF), Andhra Pradesh, to file an independent report regarding the nature of the land, whether any permission under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 is required to carry out mining activity in the area and whether any violation was committed at Bhamidikaloodi. 

Kondru Maridiyya of Visakhapatnam had filed a petition in the NGT alleging that mining activity was being carried out with the permission granted for 20 years over 121 hectares of forest land located in unsurveyed hill poramboke at Bhamidikaloodi. 

Further, the petitioner said the road meant for transportation of provisions for STs living in the forest area was expanded without any permission from the forest authorities. Construction of the road is against the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, he stated. 

Further, it was alleged that the Gram Sabha recommendation and permission for mining, which is required as per the provisions of Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 were fabricated and the Letter of Intent was issued permitting mining of laterite stone for 20 years. 

The NGT was urged to direct the state government to ensure that no mining activity is undertaken in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2003 at the unsurveyed hill poramboke, which is adjacent to the reserve forest area in East Godavari district. Further, the petitioner urged the NGT to declare the widening of the road a violation of the Forest (Conservation) Rules and issue an order to restore it. 

He also sought a departmental inquiry against the mines and geology officials for their ‘failure’ to protect the Sarugudu Reserve Forest Area, besides imposing exemplary costs on all the ‘errant’ officials.
The NGT stated that after going through the allegations, it felt its intervention was required to resolve the issue and admitted the petition.

The NGT directed the committee appointed by it to ascertain the nature of land where the alleged mining activity is being carried out by verifying the original revenue records prior to Independence and whether all necessary permissions, including clearance if any required under the Forest (Conservation) Act were obtained.


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