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Jairam Ramesh tells Uttarakhand CM to stop illegal Mining

NEW DELHI: Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has asked the Uttarakhand government to take action to stop illegal river bed mining in Ganga, particularly around Haridwar. This latest missive comes on the heels of the death of Swami Nigamanand, who was protesting against mining in the Ganga.

Ramesh's strongly worded letter to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank refers to inaction by the state government in tackling illegal riverbed mining.

"It is unfortunate that in spite of my repeated requests, no effective action appears to have been taken by the state government to stop illegal river bed sand mining. Various media reports appearing in recent days confirm the inaction on the part of the state government," Ramesh wrote.

The environment minister's charge of inaction by the state government is likely to raise the pitch of the blame game, which is already underway, between the Congress and the BJP in the election bound state. This is not the first time that the environment minister has urged the state government to take steps to curb illegal mining. Ramesh had written 18 months ago asking the Uttarakhand government to take action.

"I would urge you to kindly have the matter looked into so that necessary instructions are issued to the concerned officers to take immediate action to stop illegal mining going on in your state, including at the Missarpur and Ajitpur in Hardwar, before the situation takes any ugly turn," Ramesh wrote in January last year.

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act delegates the power to frame rules to control and deal with illegal mining to the states. The environment ministry has argued that it is the responsibility of the Uttarakhand government to take the requisite action.

The fact that the environment ministry restricted itself to urging the state government to take action is seen to be in keeping with constitutional propriety. Given the import of the death of the 34 year-old Swami Nigamanand in the course of his non-violent protest against illegal mining, it is likely that the environment ministry will now take unilateral action, if the state government doesn't act soon.

The centre can under invoke provisions of the section 3 of the Environment Protection Act give directions to the state government. This is something that the environment ministry has recently done in the case of declaring the 135 kilometre stretch of the Bhagirathi between Gomukh and Devprayag as eco sensitive, under Section 3(2) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Source: Economictimes.indiatimes.com

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