The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered a joint inspection by a three-member expert panel, headed by the district magistrate, to verify the factual aspects of a plea alleging illegal rock mining adversely affecting the freshwater sources and also affecting nearly 10,000 residents in Kottarakkara taluk of Kollam district in Kerala.
A bench of Justice Brijesh Sethi noted the seriousness of the allegations and said it appears necessary to ascertain the factual position in the matter through a joint committee of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Mining and Geological Department, and Ernakulam district magistrate.
Kollam district magistrate will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance, the bench said in an order dated January 25. It further said that the joint Committee may meet within one month to undertake a site visit and look into the grievance of the applicant. Factual and action taken report may be furnished within three months before the Registrar, National Green Tribunal, Southern Zonal Bench at Chennai.
The bench listed the matter for further hearing on April 28.
As per the complaint, the illegal rock mining has been operated and owned by Mohammed Roshan H., a resident of Cherukulam for over a year. It is submitted that the illegal mining devastated freshwater sources including a river and groundwater in the locality and also affected about 10,000 people residing nearby.
The soil removed by mining operations is piled up near the mining areas without taking precautionary measures. A higher secondary school is also located within 300 meters of the mine. The road, which is also used by school children, stands damaged because of trucks carrying a lot of loads, the plea stated.