The National Green Tribunal has slapped an interim penalty of Rs 100 crore on the Andhra Pradesh government for inaction to prevent illegal sand mining in the state.
A bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, directed the chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh to forthwith prohibit all unregulated sand mining.
The green panel said it is the duty of the government to provide complete protection to the natural resources as a trustee of the public at large.
"Moreover, even a policy to give free sand as welfare measure cannot justify unregulated mining unmindful of impact on environment. If in the course of mining, damage is caused, the same must be recovered from such violators.
Authorities cannot avoid their duty under the environmental law to restore the damage which is a duty to future generations," the bench said, in a recent order.
The tribunal directed the state government to deposit Rs 100 crore 'environment compensation' with the Central Pollution Control Board within a month.
It also constituted a committee comprising Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), National Institute of Mines, Dhanbad, IIT Roorkee and Madras School of Economics to undertake environment damage assessment within three months and furnish a report to this Tribunal.
"The chief secretary may also prepare a report about the particulars of the licences granted for sand mining in the whole state of Andhra Pradesh and estimated amount of sand extracted," the tribunal said.
The tribunal's direction came on a plea filed by Andhra Pradesh resident Anumolu Gandhi, alleging illegal sand mining was causing damage to Krishna, Godavari rivers and their tributaries in the state.