The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today informed the Uttar Pradesh government that it was "unhappy" with its investigation into instances of illegal sand mining as most of the people arrested are drivers of vehicles used for removal of sand and not the owners. "Your Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Gautam Budh Nagar is doing an unfair investigation. Most of the persons who were arrested or issued notices were drivers. The SSP should be ashamed of himself.
"We are certainly unable to appreciate what was stated by the SSP and Director of Mining before us on the last date of hearing. We are very unhappy with the way you have conducted the investigation," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The Advocate General appearing for Uttar Pradesh denied that unfair probe was done by the SSP of Gautam Budh Nagar and sought to assure the bench that the government has complied with the tribunal's orders.
The counsel also contended it has taken action against the owners of the vehicles used for removal of sand, as several of them have been arrested and are currently in jail. The bench, nevertheless, was not satisfied with claims of the state, as it observed "we wanted the people who were heading the illegal sand mining operations. People who came here were poor drivers".
"The police and mining authority issued notices to the persons who were poor drivers... We express our anguish and do not appreciate the approach that has been adopted by the authorities," the bench said.
Based on the names given by the drivers on September 26, the NGT issued notices to the vehicle owners and directed the authorities to "furnish complete details and names of the owners and real persons who have been carrying on this illegal mining activity".
The tribunal also directed the SSP and Director of Mining to "produce the complete police file (regarding the probe) before the tribunal on next date and to ensure that notices (issued to vehicle owners) have been served".
Meanwhile, in another matter relating to alleged illegal sand mining going on in Uttarakhand, the NGT made it clear that any mining activity there without clearance from environment ministry or State Environment Impact Assessment Authority is prohibited.
The tribunal also directed no illegal mining will be permitted in the cities of Banjarwala and Bopara in Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, after the bench was informed that sand is being removed, without environment clearance, from those areas.