The National Green Tribunal has constituted a fresh committee to probe the allegations of illegal sand mining in Son river in Bihar by using heavy machines that are damaging the environment.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel passed the order after perusing a report filed by Bihar State Pollution Control Board which said that no sand mining was being carried in Aurangabad and Rohtas districts.
The Patna High Court had noted that sand mining was being carried out which is in contravention to the findings of BSPCB, it said.
"In view of the above, to ascertain the truth on the ground, it is necessary to constitute another Committee which will comprise of CPCB, a Scientist nominated by MoEF and an Expert nominated by the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. The State PCB will render necessary assistance to the Committee," the bench said while posting the matter for hearing on May 22.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance, it said. "The Committee may furnish its report within two months by email".
The bench said: "We are, prime facie, of the view that the report submitted by the PCB is at variance with the observations of the High Court. There are also inherent contradictions in the report."
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Bihar native Mohd Imran Khan Kadri alleging illegal sand mining in Son river in Aurangabad and Rohtas districts by using heavy earth moving machines inside the river, damaging the ecology, besides causing air pollution due to the use of heavy trucks.
The BSPCB told the NGT that sand mining was not being carried out at any site as it is rainy season and mining activities are closed in compliance with the tribunal's direction.
"Water was flowing in the river and mining ghats were submerged under water and therefore the river-bed was invisible. The allegation that mining by using heavy earth machine inside the river was being done, could not be observed due to absence of mining activity at present," the report said.
During the proceedings, an advocate seeking to represent an erstwhile lessee argued that the report by the BSPCB is incorrect and misleading and illegal mining is going on in a big way, with the collusion of the authorities.