The tribunal, which refused to impose a total ban on dredging or de-silting of dams or river beds in Tamil Nadu, was of the view that there should be equilibrium of protecting environment while "using natural resources gifted by Mother Nature".
Observing that Mother Nature has provided a lot of natural resources like minerals and other natural resources for the universal enjoyment including human beings and animals, the NGT said other species should not over exploit them to the detriment of nature.
"It is for the human being to use it in a scientific manner without over exploitation of it to the extent required for the beneficial enjoyment so that it can be available not only for the present generation but also for the benefit of future generations.
" It is for the State Government to protect environment against over exploitation while utilizing the natural resources gifted by Mother nature, using it for sustainable development and economic development keeping into account the responsibility of maintaining equilibrium of protecting environment by applying principle of Public Trust Doctrine, Precautionary Principle, Sustainable Development and Intergenerational equality," said a bench comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member Dr. K. Satyagopal in a recent order.
The NGT was dealing with a bunch of pleas which contended that in the guise of desilting the Srivaikundam dam in Tuticorin district, illegal mining was being carried out.
The petitions also alleged that desilting was not being done in a scientific manner causing serious environmental damage.
Though the NGT held that that no environmental clearance is required for in the matter, it however, said no illegal mining be permitted in the guise of de-silting or dredging of dam sites or lakes or rivers.
"The dredging or de-silting can be done strictly in accordance with the guidelines given by the MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest) in Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines, 2016 and also Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining, 2020.
"The State of Tamil Nadu is directed to conduct regular survey of sediment deposit in the rivers or reservoirs, anaicuts, lakes, pond etc before undertaking the work of desilting or dredging as part of maintenance of these water bodies," the bench said.
The tribunal also directed Tamil Nadu to permit river bed 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.
It also asked the state of Tamil Nadu to have adequate control and monitoring mechanism of these activities for effective mining/desilting/dredging by providing all necessary infrastructure, including the technical assistance and technology available for this purpose.
"The State of Tamil Nadu is also directed to instruct the enforcement authorities to take stringent action against the persons who are violating the norms and engaged in illegal sand mining or other exploitation of the mines/minerals than the permitted quantity...
"The State of Tamil Nadu is also directed to have a permanent Expert Appraisal Committee in each District under the Chairmanship of District Collector with experts from the Mining Geology Department, PWD, Irrigation Department and if necessary, an outside independent agency for the purpose of carrying out the work of conducting replenishment study and for preparation of District Survey Report in this regard and directions be issued to them to carry out these things in regular manner well in advance before deciding to entrust the work of desilting or dredging or river sand mining to the concerned machinery.
The bench directed the State Government to take steps for installing CCTVs in the places allotted or identified for dredging/desilting/mining so as to monitor the activities scientifically and also curb illegal mining and enabling identifying of the culprits effectively. PTI PKS