The NGT imposed heavy restrictions on small-scale mining of minor minerals, the result of which the District Environment Impact Assessment Authority and the District Expert Appraisal Committee ceased to exist which hardly completed 2 years of their establishment. This step of NGT is resulting in mixed reactions from the environmentalists and regulating experts.
The order was passed by the main bench of NGT on September 13, headed by Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel who directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to revise the process for grant of Environmental Clearance (EC) to the person applying for the license of mining.
The NGT further made compulsory that all the mining leases are to be assessed with a public hearing by the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environment Management Plan. This judgment of NGT delegated the regulatory powers for mining to the State-level Authorities.
There's a mixed reaction on this move by environmental activists, where they welcomed the verdict as a corrective move in this regard, while some other experts fear that it could leave a direct bearing on the ability of the construction sector to source sand and other materials.
The (MoEFCC) on January 2016, issued a notification allowing the district level agencies to give clearance to the leases for mining up to 5 hectares but exempted such authorities to clear mining lease up to 25 hectares for the requirement of carrying out EIA and public hearing. But the latest judgment of NGT exempted district level authorities from granting mining leases.
The District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) consisting of 4 members and a Chaired by District Collector. While the 11 members body District Appraisal Committee (DEAC) was headed by the Executive Engineer of the Irrigation Department. The majority of stone quarries in Kerala fall within the B2 category (up to 5 hectares).
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