The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal has refused to ban dredging or desilting of dams or riverbeds while holding that no environmental clearance is required for the same. The Tribunal however directed that no illegal mining should be permitted in the guise of desilting or dredging of dam sites or lakes or rivers.
The Tribunal’s order came on an application which contended that in the guise of desilting the Srivaikundam dam, illegal mining was being carried out and also the desilting was not being done in a scientific manner causing serious environmental damage.
The bench directed the Tamil Nadu government to take steps for installing CCTVs in the places allotted or identified for dredging, desilting or mining to monitor the activities scientifically, curb illegal mining and to enable identifying of culprits effectively.
The bench also directed the Tamil Nadu government to conduct regular surveys of sediment deposit in the rivers or reservoirs, anaicuts, lakes, ponds, before undertaking the desilting or dredging work as part of maintenance of such waterbodies.
Also, the government has been directed to permit riverbed sand mining “strictly in accordance with the provisions of EIA Notification, 2006 as amended from time to time and also in compliance with Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines, 2016 and Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining, 2020”.
The bench further directed the government to have adequate control and monitoring mechanisms for mining, desilting or dredging, while instructing enforcement authorities to take stringent action against persons violating the norms and engaged in illegal sand mining or other exploitation of the mines or minerals than the permitted quantity. The government has also been directed to have a permanent Expert Appraisal Committee in each district.