NGT Bans Mining, Stone Quarrying Near Sariska Tiger Reserve

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The Rajasthan government has proposed only a distance of 100 metres to be the eco-sensitive zone for the Sariska sanctuary.

The National Green Tribunal on Monday directed that no person or company will be allowed to carry out stone quarrying or mining of any sort without the requisite environmental clearance near the Sariska Tiger reserve in Rajasthan. It was hearing a petition by Khayali Ram Chattiram, a resident of Alwar who claims that as many as 85 illegal stone quarrying units are operating within 10 km radius of the sanctuary.

In his application, Chattiram has alleged that “some of the mines and quarries are located about 100 metres from the sanctuary’s boundary wall and a few are operating adjacent to the boundary wall. Sariska is a special Tiger Reserve, where tiger translocation programme was taken up in 2008. The ongoing mining has been posing a threat to the wildlife present at the reserve.” It also adds that stone blasting is being carried out in the highly ecologically sensitive area.

It quotes two RTI which reveal that most of these quarries or mines are operating without environmental clearance and the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board’s consent to operate (CTO). They inquired if RSPCB had granted permissions to any of the 85 mines to which they replied on November 10, 2014 that out of the 85 named, CTO had been issued to two quarries — M/s Andhi Marble Pvt. Ltd. and M/s Agarwal Marble Craft Pvt. Ltd. The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) in its RTI reply stated that no such environmental has been given to any of the 85 quarries. As per the EIA notification 2006, all mines of less than 5 ha are required to obtain a clearance from SEIAA.

The Rajasthan government has proposed only a distance of 100 metres to be the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) for the Sariska sanctuary. ESZs are areas that need to be protected from industrial pollution and unregulated constructions under the Environment Protection Act of 1986. In 2002, MoEF had decided to declare an area of 10 km from the boundaries of protected areas as eco-sensitive zones to create a buffer around them but many state governments had opposed it. In 2005 MoEF asked state’s to declare the ESZs on a case by case basis.

NGT on Monday also issued notices to all the 85 “illegal” quarries mentioned in Chattiram’s application.

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