NGT Directs Rajasthan Official To Probe Illegal Gypsum Mining Near Indo-Pak Border

The National Green Tribunal has directed Rajasthan’s additional chief secretary, Mines and Geology, to look into alleged illegal mining of gypsum near the Indo-Pakistan border in Bikaner district and take remedial action.

The NGT was hearing a matter it had initiated on its own after taking cognisance of a media report about alleged illegal mining and issued a notice to the Rajasthan state pollution control board (PCB).

A bench of Chairperson Justice A K Goel noted the board’s response according to which though mining was prohibited within one km of the international border, it was found that illegal mining by an individual owner of land took place within 250 metres of the frontier to the extent of 172.5 tonnes of gypsum for which a penalty of Rs 2.96 lakh was collected.

The bench, also comprising Judicial Members Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi, and Expert Member Afroz Ahmad said the compensation for environmental violation could not be assessed according to the established norms.

“In the absence thereof, apart from the issue of damage to the environment, loss of revenue of the state remains unaddressed. This may call for intervention at a higher level,” the bench said.

“Accordingly, we direct the additional chief secretary (ACS) Mines and Geology, Rajasthan to look into the matter and take remedial action in coordination with other authorities concerned in respect of the incident in question as well as any other such incidents,” the bench added.

It directed a copy of the order be also sent to the state’s Chief Secretary, senior superintendent of police (SSP) and District Magistrate of Bikaner district for compliance.

Crude gypsum is used as a fluxing agent, fertilizer, filler in paper and textiles, and retarder in portland cement. About three-fourths of the total production is calcined for use as plaster of paris and as building material in plaster, Keene’s cement, board products, and tiles and blocks.

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