Order of the National Green Tribunal on the lack of EIA for many of the minor mineral mining projects in Uttar Pradesh, 25/09/2019

  • 25/09/2019

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Amit Upadhaya Vs State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authority & Others dated 25/09/2019 regarding lack of EIA for many minor mineral mining projects in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Tribunal, clubbed two applications. The first case relates to environmental clearance (EC) granted to 12 minor mineral-sand/morrum mining projects on the rivers Betwa and Ken without EIA. In the second case, a Regional Environmental Impact Assessment (REIA) for five rivers over which sand mining projects exist, was prepared by the environmental consultant in the process of which several critical documents required as per Form 1 were not uploaded. The respondent, however, went ahead in processing the project and public hearings invited by the State Pollution Control Board although no ToRs had been issued and notified. Several public hearings actually did not take place and, the cases where public hearing was conducted were based on false statements. The specific objections raised by the District Mining Officer, Banda, with regard to non-availability of the EIA Reports or the ToR had been ignored.

The National Green Tribunal in its Order said that "REIA is a macro level tool which only gives representative idea of impacts in general over in a large area. It is just an indicative tool which gives a bird’s eye view of situation. Only the individual EIA or cluster based EIA can bring out individual or cluster based impacts on environment."

"Moreover, such tendency of placing reliance on REIA which is a macro tool shall set a bad precedent to shadow or mask the micro level impacts which are quite significant in terms of its environmental consequences and, therefore, has a much larger need for mitigation. Reliance on such tools will give the authorities a false sense of environmental compliance whereas environmental degradation will continue at the same pace," the order added.

The Tribunal said it was wrong on the part of the the SEIAA, the state of Uttar Pradesh as well as the MoEF&CC and the CPCB to accept "REIA as the cluster EIA for all the clusters by the project proponents." The NGT quashes the EC's granted to all the mining leases as they fail to satisfy the requirement of the EIA Notification 2006, directions issued by the Supreme Court in Deepak Kumar case, the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 and the various Office Memorandums issued by the MoEF&CC in relation to it.