NGT needs to broaden proceedings against illegal sand-mining across Meghalaya: HC

Shillong, May 25 (PTI) Meghalaya High Court has said that there is a need for the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to broaden its proceedings against illegal sand-mining across the entire northeastern state.

A full bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee was on Tuesday hearing a suo motu petition filed by the registrar general of the high court following reports of unregulated sand-mining destroying water bodies across the state.

“It is hoped that the NGT broadens the scope of the proceedings before it and takes immediate appropriate measures to ensure that the law of the land is followed,” the order stated.

The court said the petition was adjourned on April 19 upon noticing that a notification had been published by the state government on April 14 pursuant to the directions of the NGT issued on April 5, 2019 and February 26, 2021.

“An impression was given that the NGT was still monitoring all illegal sand-mining activities in the state and appropriate directions had been issued,” it said.

The court had observed in the immediate previous order of April 19, 2022 that if there was a matter before the NGT that covered the subject-matter of the present proceedings, the present proceedings may be closed.

However, Amicus Curiae S Sen informed the court that the matter before the NGT is confined to the illegal sand-mining and extraction of rocks and stones from riverbeds in Ri-Bhoi district.

The NGT, according to the amicus curiae, has not taken up several complaints pertaining to the same issue in other districts.

“Since a specialised body has taken up a matter relating to one aspect and covering a particular district, leave is given to any public-spirited individual to approach the NGT to expand the scope of the proceedings before it to address the same issue elsewhere,” the court said.

In other words, the NGT may be approached to consider the extent of illegal sand-mining and sand-mining activities in general across the state, it added.

The next hearing on the matter will be on June 21.

The NGT was hearing the case since 2019. The high court began hearing the case in April this year after the suo motu petition was filed by the registrar general of the high court.