In a bid to curb illegal sand mining in the state, The Bombay high court at Goa, earlier this week has directed the police department, transport department and Ports department to curb illegal sand and gravel mining within next 3 months.
Pronouncing orders in to Federation of Rainbow Warriors petition, the division bench of the Bombay high court at Goa directed police dept to conduct intensive patrolling through road and sea in 24 places identified by the mines and geology department vulnerable to illegal trade.
- We direct the State and its various departments to undertake regular patrolling through flying squads at all stretches of rivers. Such patrolling shall not be at any fixed time of the day but randomly during the day and during the night, so as to genuinely surprise those indulging in illegal sand mining and ensure the stoppage of such illegal sand mining.
- The canoes and boats used for illegal extraction of the sand shall be seized by the flying squads and thereafter confiscated. The registration of such canoes/boats used for illegal sand mining shall be cancelled by the Captain of Ports.
- The State and its authorities, in the first instance, shall ensure that the illegally mined sand stacked on the river banks or on plots close to the river banks is put back into the river or used for the purpose of replenishment of the areas, where erosion has taken place on account of indiscriminate sand mining or other natural causes. The expenses for this will have to be initially borne by the State and its agencies. However, the State and its agencies, should invariably recover such expenses from those found involved in illegal sand mining at the site.
- If, for some reason such restoration or replenishment as aforesaid is not feasible, the State, may use the confiscated sand, gravel and other material for public projects, after maintaining proper records and following due procedures. The maintenance of such records is absolutely necessary, as otherwise, there is a tendency for such confiscated material to find its way into unauthorized markets, looking to the demand for this material, particularly from the real estate or construction industry.
- The State should launch prosecution against those, found to be illegally extracting sand and other natural resources. For this purpose, the First Information Reports should be filed by invoking the appropriate provisions of the IPC and such prosecution should be pursued with all seriousness and taken to their logical conclusions. The State, must not, rest only with prosecution under the MMDR Act or the Goa Minor Mineral Concessions Rules, 1985, since, we find that most of these prosecutions, end up with levy of paltry penalties and fines upon those indulging in illegal extraction of sand and gravel from the riverbeds and river banks.
- The State and its agencies must ensure that there is intensive patrolling in these areas, both by road as well as in the rivers themselves. We direct that patrolling must be done at least thrice each day in these areas and police must make entries in this regard in the station diary in their respective police stations. The vigil at these areas will have to be kept mainly by the police authorities, who, upon detection of illegal sand mining must take immediate action, including by way of summoning flying squads constituted for the purpose of taking action in such matters.
- We direct the State to provide the flying squads with dedicated boats for patrolling and site inspection with adequate staff. We also direct the Marine/Coastal Police to assist the flying squads to carry out regular patrolling and raids along the rivers whenever reports are received in the matter of illegal sand mining. We direct the State Government to make adequate arrangements in this regard. In particular, we direct that some dedicated boats be made available for patrolling the sensitive areas. All this exercise must be completed within three months.
- We direct the State, through its police machinery as well as transport department to regularly patrol these areas and check the transport vehicles carrying sand to verify whether the same is backed by valid permissions and authorizations. If the transporters are unable to indicate the source from where such sand or gravel is mined and to produce necessary permissions/ authorizations for transportation, the police and transport authorities to take stern action, including but not restricted to confiscation of trucks and material therein. The police should also consider, in such cases, to launch prosecution under the relevant sections of the IPC as well as MMDR Act.