The NGT’s principal bench, headed by chairperson AK Goel, issued the order in the wake of a petition by Greater Noida-based environmentalist Vikrant Tongad in 2016 that claimed sand mining on river beds is done mainly for the purpose of construction.
The order was uploaded on the tribunal’s portal on Tuesday evening.
In its order, the tribunal has taken back the rights of District Level Environment Impact Assessment Society in granting permission for any kind of mining activity in a land area ranging from 0-5 hectares.
The order states that permission for any kind of mining would now have to be secured from the state-level Environment Impact Assessment Society (SEIAA), claiming that the DEIAA does not have the expertise or scientific knowledge necessary to assess environmental implications and have been conferred with “excessive and uncanalized power devoid of any guidelines”.
“The tribunal has noted that extraction of alluvial soil from within or near a stream bed has a direct impact on the stream’s physical habitat characteristics. The characteristics include bed elevation, substrate composition and stability, in-stream roughness elements, depth, velocity, turbidity, sediment transport, stream discharge and temperature,” Tongad told TOI.
“Altering these habitat characteristics can have deleterious impacts on both in-stream and upstream of several rivers which may have serious environmental impact,” he added.
Sand and soil mining has been an activity along the banks of Yamuna in the Greater Noida region.
The environmentalists feel that with a curb on procurement of permission for such mining at district level, a check would be brought on over-mining or illegal mining in the region.