District Magistrates should be asked for affidavits on earth digging underway
September 29, 2013: In a welcome move, National Green Tribunal (NGT) Bench headed by Justice P. Jyothimani, Judicial Member has banned digging of earth across the country for making bricks and laying roads without prior environment clearance (EC) through its interim order dated September 27, 2013. The next date of hearing is on October 7, 2013. Indiscriminate digging of brick earth for brick making and ordinary earth for road making that has been going on is taking a huge toll on environment in violation of the Supreme Court’s order and direction from the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF).
There are more than 10,000 operating units in the country that produce about 150-200 billion bricks annually. Solid fired clay bricks are among the most widely used building materials. India accounts for more than 10 percent of global production. Since no agency in India keeps records of brick production, these statistics are merely estimates cited by the industry. The topsoil that is used for brick production results in land degradation. Impact of India’s brick industry which is the second largest brick producer in the world after China on soil, water, air, vegetation and human health merits rigorous scrutiny. Due to excessive digging of earth for clay the vegetation is lost which leads to soil depletion. After digging the sites are abandoned and no remedial measures like afforestation and plantation is done, which leads to land degradation and depletion of vegetation. Besides earth dogging for bricks, enormous digging of earth takes place for road making.
NGT must seek affidavits from each District Magistrate to fathom the extent of earth digging which is contributing to shrinking of farm land.
Recalling the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of “Deepak Kumar Vs. State of Haryana & Ors” and the directions issued by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) dated 18.05.2012 and the 24.06.2013 to all States wherein MoEF has directed that digging of brick-earth for brick making and ordinaryearth for road making from an area of 5 hectares or more in extent is to be categorised as B-1 project and those less than 5 hectare shall be categorised as B-2 category and stipulated various conditions for the purpose of obtaining Environmental Clearance (EC) in respect of the clusters.
NGT order reads: “we restrain any person, Company and Authority to carry out any such digging activities of brick earth or ordinary earth against the directives issued by the MoEF dated 24.06.2013 in any part of the country without obtaining EC from the competent authority as per the Notification. The Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs are to ensure strict adherence to this order.”
The order was passed on an application pointing out violations by Uttar Pradesh but it is applicable to all the States.
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