Posted on August 28, 2023
The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary to instruct the Collectors to strictly follow rules while waterbodies were desilted.
The NGT made it clear that desilting should not be permitted without environmental clearance if the desilted sand was to be sold.
Govindasamy, of Puliyur in Chengalpattu district, had filed a petition for a direction to complete the desilting of the Puliyur lake and strengthening of its bunds. He alleged that a private agency, which was permitted to remove the silt, had done it unevenly, removing it in excess. The Bench, comprising Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member Dr. Satyagopal Kolarpati, referred to the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016, and said the guidelines recognised the rights of local people to take silt, sand and soil from the tanks or lakes for their use or for community projects in the village.
The Bench said the Collector ought to have verified whether the silt was required for local agriculturists or for any community work in the village. “Time and again, this tribunal has held that mining should not be carried out in the garb of desilting,” it said.
The moment the dredged silt was sold, it amounted to mining and attracted the requirement of prior environmental clearance, the Bench added.
Disposing of the petition, the Bench asked the Chief Secretary to instruct the Collectors and the Water Resources Department to follow all rules and regulations scrupulously and ensure that desilting or dredging of waterbodies was not carried out without prior environmental clearance in cases in which the dredged material was sold or used for government projects.