HC pulls up Govt for their lax attitude to act against illegal sand mining
Directs State to install CCTV cameras below Amona bridge-both sides that are Amona, Candola & Oxel Village at Siolim to keep vigil over the illegal sand mining activities
PANAJI: The Bombay High Court at Goa has come down heavily on the State Government authorities, particularly the police, for their lax attitude towards preventing illegal and unauthorized sand mining activities along the riverbeds.
The bench comprising M.S Sonak & M.S Jawalkar has directed the State to install CCTV cameras below Amona bridge- both sides that are Amona and Candola and Oxel Village at Siolim to keep vigil over the illegal sand mining activities, which are rampant along with these sites.
The Court observed that despite several orders, illegal sand mining activities continue in North Goa. It also noted that the authorities who were duty-bound to prevent this illegal sand mining do not seem seriously interested in implementing the orders made by the Court from time to time.
“According to us, the persons involved in illegal sand. Mining is out to hoodwink the authorities. Unfortunately, we find that in many cases, even the authorities appear to be too eager to be hoodwinked,” the HC said.
The Court noted that the police authorities, in particular, are more lax in preventing illegal and unauthorized sand mining.
The Court has directed DGP to issue strict instructions to concerned police stations to render all the cooperation to authorities in preventing illegal sand mining.
“The Director-General of Police (DGP) must issue strict instructions to the concerned police stations to render all possible cooperation to the authorities taking steps to prevent illegal sand mining. The DGP should also issue strict instructions to all the concerned police stations to attend to the complaints about illegal sand,” it said.
The HC said that it found that the illegally extracted sand was transported quite freely. In our earlier orders, we had referred to routes where such transportation takes place. Unfortunately, the RTO authorities are extremely lax when it comes to action against such trucks.
The learned Advocate General pointed out that the seized trucks are released in terms of the orders made by various Courts having criminal jurisdiction. He submits that many trucks bring in sand from the neighbouring State of Maharashtra, which may have been legally extracted.
According to HC, the RTO authorities should stop every truck transporting sand because, presently, there are no permits issued to extract sand to any party within the State of Goa. Prima facie, therefore, transportation of sand will amount to transportation of illegally extracted sand.
“The RTO authorities, after stopping the trucks, should then find out whether the trucks. have necessary permits or authorization and the sand they are transporting was indeed extracted in the State of Maharashtra through legal means. If the trucks are unable to produce any such documents, then the RTO authorities should proceed because this is the transportation of illegally extracted sand. The Director of Transport will be personally responsible for the implementation of this direction,” HC said.
Further, if the Courts having criminal jurisdiction to release trucks, the RTO authorities should consider whether the permits for transportation granted to such trucks need to be suspended or revoked. The permits obviously do not authorize such trucks to transport the sand which is illegally extracted. Therefore, if the trucks are indulging in abetting the offence of illegal sand extraction (which amounts to theft of property), then, surely, the RTO authorities must take steps to suspend or revoke the permits.
“The two Nodal Officers will be ultimately responsible for the implementation of our directions and, therefore, the two Nodal Officers must coordinate with other authorities like the Director of Mines, Captain of Ports, Director of Transport, and the Police Authorities. Suppose the Nodal Officers find that any of the authorities are not rendering cooperation. In that case, the Nodal Officers are at liberty to point out this fact to the Court of the learned Counsel for the Petitioner. Any non-cooperation of such authorities, at least, prima facie, will amount to obstruction in implementation of the Court orders,” it added.
The State is directed to file the compliance report by November 21, while the matter will be taken up for further consideration on December 6.