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A leaseholder for sand mining has been ordered by the National Green Tribunal to pay Rs 9.16 crore as environmental compensation charges for damaging ecology by excavating sand beyond permissible limit from the Kosi river in Rampur district of Uttar Pradesh.

An NGT bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore imposed the penalty saying the leases are not demarcated on the ground and mining was done by using heavy machinery which is a violation of the Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines 2016.

The bench took the punitive action on the basis of a report by by senior scientists from the Union Environment Ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which found leaseholder Neeraj Chaturvedi excavating the sand beyond permissible limit using heavy machineries.

"The tribunal had noted on April 12 that excavation was done beyond permissible limit, in-stream mining was carried out and damage was caused due to mining by heavy machinery. The CPCB was, therefore, directed to submit a report with regard to the environmental damage caused due to illegal mining and the excess minerals which have been extracted," the green panel said in a recent order.

The NGT said, "We, therefore, direct respondent no. 6 (Chaturvedi) to pay environmental compensation of Rs 9,16,61,677 to the CPCB within a period of 15 days".

The bench, also comprising expert member Satyawan Singh Garbyal, directed CPCB to transfer the cost of restoration, which is Rs 9,42,720 to Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board for taking up restoration measures within six months thereafter.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by activist Mustafa Hussain seeking directions to cancel the environmental clearance granted to respondent Chaturvedi, alleging that he has not followed the terms and conditions of the EC.

In his application, Hussain had raised the issue of illegal mining being undertaken by Chaturvedi on the bed of Kosi river in Swar area of Rampur with the help of heavy machineries such as JCB etc., whereas the environmental clearance granted in his favour did not permit the use of heavy machines on the river bed.

It had been further stated that environmental clearance clearly contemplated that the depth of mining will be up to 3 meters in the river bed or at least a meter above the water level, whichever is less, whereas respondent Chaturvedi while undertaking mining activity has violated the said condition.

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