Issues of sand mining deliberated upon

SHILLONG: Consequent to the order of the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal banning sand mining from river beds, the Office of The Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills District, and the Basin Development Unit of the District under the Mission Green of the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme (IBDLP) organized a public meeting cum awareness programme at Smit village on Tuesday to deliberate and create awareness to the public on regulation of mining activities.

Speaking on the occasion, HS Nongkynrih, SE, and PHE pointed out the fact that there are many difficulties that came out as a result of unregulated and unscientific mining of sand which has affected the water sources mainly the Umiew River which is the main source of drinking water of Shillong.

He emphasized that there should be a proper and scientific way of mining and this public meeting will create awareness among the people on how to do mining and at the same time conserve the environment even as he requested the people to take full responsibility in saving the water bodies all around.

B Majaw (Environmental Engineer, MSPCB) brought to light that the Supreme Court and the NGT (National Green Tribunal) have laid many orders regarding mining and this is one part of leading those people who are engaging in mining activities to avoid unregulated mining.

She stated that mining of land below 5 hectare should be done after getting the environmental clearance from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Agency and from the Ministry of Environmental Forest.

Manjunath (Divisional Forest Officer, Territorial Division) said that this gathering is meant to create public awareness and public dialogue in regulating sand mining even as he emphasized that the NGT order was passed particularly for sand extraction and it restricts sand mining from river bank without environmental clearance from the Ministry of environmental Forest and deliberated that anyone wishing to go for sand mining needs to get proper permit and permission from the Office of the DFO (Territorial) of the district.

The Syiem of Hima Khyrim also deliberated upon the issue and stated Some village leader says they have no power to stop or restrict illegal mining in the village even though it affect the river as the land is privately owned.

It was stressed that a frame work is needed to work it out and also washing of vehicles and throwing of garbage near the riverside should also be looked upon.

It was also discussed dialogue forum must be form for consultation so that the process is continued and to work hand in hand with the government and to have more awareness campaign in different places as well.

East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner Sanjay Goyal while participating in the meeting stated that indiscriminate extraction of minerals or removal of sands from river beds etc. caused pollution which affects the environment.

He impressed upon The Sordar, The Myntris, The Syiem of Hima Khyrim and all stake holders the importance to regulate the mining activities so as the environment and water bodies could be preserve and protected for the benefit of all, adding he also requested, the Syiem of Hima Khyrim to take the initiative in forming the Eco-club or Group in Smit area for working of the modalities of protecting the environment in their localities/societies which can be supported under the Mission Green of the Government. According to Goyal, possibilities should be explored by the stakeholders to go for alternative source of livelihood which do not cause harm to the environment and the present situation needs to be changed and the mining activities need to be regulated by following due procedure and taking necessary permissions from the concerned authorities.

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