HC bans mining near highways, bridges - ECAS Punjab

HC bans mining near highways, bridges

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Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today banned mining activities a kilometre from national highways and major bridges across the state. Directions prohibiting mining activities half-a-kilometre from state highways and small bridges were also issued.

Ruling that "rivers have an inherent right to flow without hindrance," the Bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Harinder Singh Sidhu also directed the Deputy Commissioners and the Senior Superintendents of Police to constitute special flying squads, comprising officers and officials from mining, revenue and police department. For the purpose, the Bench set a two-week deadline.

The deployment of heavy machinery was prohibited for extraction of sand and gravel from river beds. "The mining depth should be restricted up to three meters in river beds," the Bench asserted.

Directions were issued for deployment of drones to check illegal mining and undertaking river audit, including replenishment study within six months. The state was asked to evolve a procedure to monitor sale and purchase of sand.

The state government was directed to take stern action against erring officials for their failure to check illegal mining in areas under their jurisdiction. The Bench ruled that sand mining would be strictly carried out in the state in accordance with the environmental law and the guidelines laid down by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change from time to time.

The directions came on a petition filed by Bakhsish Singh and other petitioners against the state of Punjab and other respondents alleging large scale illegal mining activities in their villages and the Sutlej riverbed. The Bench was told that heavy mining had changed the course of the river at few places resulting in flooding. The case will now come up for hearing on September 30.



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