New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday expressed concern over mowing down of a forest home guard by alleged mining mafia in Sariska tiger reserve and directed the Centre and the Rajasthan government to ensure ban on the excavation of minor minerals.
The green panel noted that mining is taking place inside the tiger reserve in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and mining norms laid down under the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines 2016, by Central Pollution Control Board under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
NGT said that there appears to be a failure of the oversight regulatory mechanism in the enforcement of the provision of the Wildlife Act as well as Sustainable Mining Guidelines.
"While this Tribunal is not directly concerned with the enforcement of criminal law, the same being incidental to the enforcement of environmental norms, we cannot refrain from expressing our concern at such incidents in eco-sensitive areas and the defiance of environmental laws remaining unchecked.
"We do hope the State of Rajasthan will monitor the enforcement of law in this direction at appropriate higher level and the Union Environment Ministry will coordinate with the concerned authorities," the NGT said adding that illegal mining must be strictly dealt with.
The NGT said to maintain morale of the guards and other enforcement officials and to uphold rule of law, family of the deceased ought to be suitably rehabilitated and police machinery must ensure that guilty is apprehended expeditiously and brought to justice.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel formed a committee comprising officials from the state pollution control board, Alwar District Magistrate and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force) and directed it to submit a report.
"The report may also mention estimate of illegal mining, number mines sanctioned in the area and regulatory mechanism to check the illegal mining in the said eco-sensitive area," the bench said.
Proceedings in this matter have been initiated based on media report that “a forest home guard, Keval Singh, was mowed down by a tractor belonging to suspected mining mafia inside Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) on July 26 after he attempted to stop them along with his colleague.”
According to the report, the guard was rushed to a hospital where he succumbed to injuries. Cops are yet to arrest the accused, but have seized the tractor.