Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Illegal Mining in Aravallis and Baffling Silence of Authorities

The National Green Tribunal has constituted an expert panel to probe into allegations of illegal mining in the Aravalli Hills in Haryana on complaints by a citizens’ group.

Illegal mining continues unabated at several locations in the Aravallis.

New Delhi: Multiple complaints of illegal mining in Aravallis, which were made by national capital region citizens to government authorities in New Delhi and Haryana, have gone unheard. This raises the question: Why are the BJP governments at the Centre and in Haryana turning a blind eye towards illegal mining in Aravalli Hills, which serve as a natural barrier between the plains of northern India and the Thar desert? 

After not getting any response from the state government of Haryana and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), a citizens’ group, the Aravalli Bachao Citizens’ Movement, has sought legal intervention in the matter by filing a petition in the National Green Tribunal in New Delhi. On May 23, the green tribunal constituted a high-level expert committee to prepare a factual verification report of allegations pertaining to illegal mining at 16 locations in the Aravallis in Haryana within a time period of three months.

The tribunal has also directed the Haryana government’s police department and the Department of Mining and Geology to clarify the number of complaints received against illegal mining and action taken, if any, in this regard.

“The averments made in the petition raise substantial questions relating to environment arising out of the implementation of the enactments specified in Schedule-I to the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 and adequacy and efficacy as well as failure of surveillance and monitoring mechanism evolved for preventing illegal mining and measures required to be taken for this purpose in the area and protecting the Aravalli range from further degradation in view of its immense ecological importance,” a division bench of the tribunal, comprising Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi and Judicial Member Afroz Ahmed, stated in its order.

All forms of mining activities are at present under a ban in the districts of Gurugram, Faridabad and Nuh of Haryana in the Aravalli ranges vide a Supreme Court order dated 8 May 2009. The ban order is applicable over an area of approximately 480 square kilometres over the Aravallis.

However, multiple field visits undertaken at different phases by members of the citizens’ group revealed large-scale mining and quarrying of stones in the Aravallis in the three aforementioned districts. The field visits were undertaken in March-April 2021, June-July 2021 and in between November 2021 and March 2022. Illegal sand and stone mining activities were found to be in progress in several locations including that near Tikli village and in Pandala hills in Gurugram and near Kot village, near Dhauj and the Bharadwaj Lake area in Faridabad.

“In many locations, substantial portions of the hills have been mined and taken away and, in some instances, completely razed to the ground. During our field visits, we found such an instance near Pandala Hills in Gurugram. Avid trekkers who have been hiking in the Aravallis for several years have also told us that hilly areas near Tikli village have been completely flattened to the ground. We also noticed tractors without registration number plates ferrying excavated minerals in the region,” Neelam Ahluwalia, a member of the citizens’ movement told NewsClick.

The complaints about illegal mining at the aforementioned four locations were thereafter sent by the Aravalli Bachao Citizens’ Movement to multiple authorities in Haryana and New Delhi on April 15, 2021, April 20, 2021, and May 31, 2021. A complaint was sent to the office of the Secretary of MoEF&CC – who is the topmost executive official of the ministry. Complaints were also made to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, the Chief Secretary of Haryana and the district magistrates of Gurugram and Faridabad, respectively. These complaints were also sent, among others, to Haryana’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, officials of the Forest and Mining Department and the MLAs of Gurugram and Faridabad.

However, there was a sparse response by the authorities to these complaints. The Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana, Dushyant Chautala, forwarded the complaint to the state’s Forest Department directing officials to take appropriate action.

Subsequently, the Haryana Police informed the group that they had registered a complaint regarding allegations of illegal mining in the Aravallis at the Badshahpur police station in Gurugram. Subsequently, cops from as many as three police stations of Gurugram – Badshahpur, Bhondsi, and Sohna Sadar – accompanied members of the citizens’ group to the alleged illegal mining sites on June 19, 2021, June 22, 2021, and June 26, 2021, to take stock of the situation in the area. Members of the group told NewsClick that though the cops confirmed the prevalence of illegal mining at the aforementioned locations, they refused to take any action saying that the areas did not fall within the jurisdictional limits of their respective police stations.


“The police officials could have filed a zero FIR in the matter against illegal mining which they failed to do,” said another member of the group, Colonel Sarvadaman Oberoi.

The Mining Department, in a response to an RTI query by the citizens’ group, said in September 2021 that “mining activities in Gurugram and Nuh are completely shut” in accordance with the orders of the apex court and that “no mining lease has been given from 2001 onwards till date”. Similarly, the Forest Department of Faridabad in its response to an RTI query said on October 2, 2021, that neither has any NOC (no-objection certificate) been granted for mining in Faridabad nor any complaints have been received against mining in Aravallis falling in the district.

Subsequently, members of the citizens’ group undertook more site visits to the Aravallis in July 2021 and again between November 2021 and March 2022. They found illegal mining activities undergoing at as many as 11 locations during the field visits while no evidence, whatsoever, was found about efforts undertaken by the government to enforce the ban in response to their complaints.

In pursuing their fight to save the Aravallis, the members of the citizens’ group also made personal visits to many of the government departments seeking enforcement of the apex ban on mining in the region.

On March 7, 2022, the group sent complaints yet again to the central government in New Delhi including the Secretary of MoEF&CC, the Member-Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board and the National Capital Region Planning Board. Amongst officials of the Haryana government who were marked in the complaint letters are the Principal Secretary of Haryana’s Mines & Geology Department, Haryana’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, the Conservator of Forests of Haryana Forest Department’s South Circle, and the Member-Secretary of Haryana State Pollution Control Board. However, no response had been received from any of the authorities nor had any action been taken by them till the month of May when the citizens’ group decided to file a petition in the green tribunal. In their petition, the group has asked for the constitution of a permanent pan-State autonomous body entrusted with the responsibility of conservation of the Aravallis.

No member of the citizens’ group nor any independent expert has been nominated for the fact-finding committee that has been constituted by the green tribunal.

Repeated calls made by this correspondent to the District Commissioners of Gurugram and Faridabad in order to ascertain the exact official position on action taken against alleged illegal mining activities, if any, did not yield any response.

As per geomorphological studies, the Aravallis have acted as a natural barrier preventing the advancement of the Thar Desert towards the fertile soils of eastern Rajasthan, the Indo-Gangetic plains, Haryana and the area comprising the national capital region for more than three billion years. The importance of the Aravalli Hills for the national capital region was stated by a three-judge division bench of the Supreme Court in the judgement delivered in the landmark case of MC Mehta vs Union of India.

“The Aravallis, the most distinctive and ancient mountain chain of Peninsular India, mark the site of one of the oldest geological formations in the world. Due to its geological location, desertification is stopped and it prevents expansion of the desert into Delhi. On account of extensive mining on a disproportionate scale without taking remedial measures has resulted irreversible changes in the environment at Aravalli,” the bench comprising Justices KG Balakrishnan, Arijit Pasayat, and S.H. Kapadia had stated in the order.

The Aravallis, as per the studies, are instrumental in shaping the climate of the upper Indo-Gangetic plains and in regulating rainfall and temperature in the region besides also regulating aquifer recharge which is important for soil conservation and for maintenance of ecological balance and biodiversity. Further, the forests of the Aravallis act as the green lungs for most parts of Northwestern India including New Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad which are amongst the most polluted cities in the country. The Aravallis are also considered a rich natural ecosystem and a biodiversity hotspot with hundreds of species of native trees, shrubs, grasses, herbs, birds, butterflies, reptiles, insects, amphibians, and mammals, whose existence has been threatened by illegal mining activities.

A Central Empowered Committee appointed by the Supreme Court had reported in the year 2018 that nearly one-fourth of the Aravallis in Rajasthan have already vanished because of the illegal mining practices. As per the committee’s report, illegal mining has been in existence in the area since the year 1968.

The writer is an independent journalist.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram