Illegal Clay Mining: NGT Issues Notices to NHAI, NKC and Govt

Illegal Clay Mining: NGT Issues Notices to NHAI, NKC and Govt
Illegal Clay Mining: NGT Issues Notices to NHAI, NKC and Govt
Illegal Clay Mining: NGT Issues Notices to NHAI, NKC and Govt
Illegal Clay Mining: NGT Issues Notices to NHAI, NKC and Govt

Illegal Clay Mining: NGT Issues Notices to NHAI, NKC and Govt

Illegal Clay Mining: NGT Issues Notices to NHAI, NKC and Govt

Illegal Clay Mining: NGT Issues Notices to NHAI, NKC and Govt

 SRINAGAR: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken serious note of illegal clay mining in the Karewas of Budgam, issuing a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Government, represented by the Chief Secretary, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), and construction company NKC Projects Pvt Ltd. This action follows allegations of environmental damage and disruption to local agriculture due to the construction of the  Srinagar Ring Road.

The notice was issued by a three-member Principal Bench of the NGT, chaired by Justice Prakash Shrivastava. Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi, a Judicial Member, and Dr Afroz Ahmad, an Expert Member, were also present during the hearing. The application was moved by residents of Wathoora, Budgam, including Bashir Ahmad Bhat, through their counsels, Advocate Saurabh Sharma and Advocate Bijay Kumar.

“The grievance of the applicants is that on account of the construction of Srinagar Ring Road passing through Village Wathoora, Tehsil Chadoora in District Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir, the flooding of the apple orchards of the applicant has taken place,” the May 27, NGT notice reads. “Submission of the Counsel for the applicant is that the water channel has been blocked in the process of construction of the road, resultantly, the waterlogging has taken place and flooding has damaged approximately three acres of the orchard land of the applicants. In support of the said plea, the applicant has relied upon the photographs enclosed along with the original application – OA.”

The petitioners also highlighted the dust pollution caused by the highway construction, which they claim is adversely affecting the orchards and crops in several villages, including Khanda Suthsoo, Gowherpora, Wathora Bugam, Lalgam, Ganjibagh, Lal Gund, Gudsathoo, Wulnu, Ichgam, and Dharmunad. The crops impacted include apple orchards, fruit plant nurseries, oats, peas, and mustard.

The order further reads: “It is also the grievance of the applicant that during the construction process, reckless excavation of clay from Karewas, a unique geological formation in Kashmir, has impacted the ecology. The original application – OA raises substantial issues relating to compliance with environmental norms. Issue notice to the respondents for filing their response at least one week before the next date of hearing by e-mail at judicial-ngt@gov.in, preferably in the form of searchable PDF/OCR Support PDF and not in the form of Image PDF.”

The locals of Wathoora and surrounding villages have welcomed the NGT’s intervention. “We hope to get justice from this court as the local administration has failed to address our grievance,” said Dr Raja Muzaffar, a social activist from Budgam who has been actively highlighting this issue. “We had approached many government officers, including SDM Chadoora, the Chief Horticulture Officer, and the construction company, but they didn’t act at all. Even Chairman DDC Budgam has written an official letter to Chairman NHAI, but there was no action, and we were forced to seek judicial intervention from NGT.”

The NGT’s involvement marks a significant step towards addressing the environmental and agricultural concerns of the residents, who have been struggling to have their voices heard. The case is lifted for September 11, 2024.

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