Preserve fertile farmland in Haryana, do not permit mining: NGT experts : The Tribune India

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Preserve fertile farmland in Haryana, do not permit mining: NGT experts

Tribunal hearing case on mining in 2 villages

Preserve fertile farmland in Haryana, do not permit mining: NGT experts

Photo for representation. File photo



Tribune News Service

Bhartesh Singh Thakur

Chandigarh, March 20

A panel of experts, formed on the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), has recommended that “mining should not be allowed in any case on fertile agricultural land as there is no possibility of replenishment”.

The NGT is hearing a case related to mining on agricultural land at Jaidhar and Mandewala villages in Yamunanagar. The panel was asked to look into all relevant aspects of sand mining on agricultural land in Haryana and make recommendations regarding environmental safeguards.

‘Erodes topsoil’

Sand mining involves the removal of topsoil, which is rich in nutrients necessary for plant growth. Committee

Pointing out the adverse impact of mining on land’s fertility, the report said, “Sand mining involves the removal of topsoil, which is rich in nutrients necessary for plant growth. If the sand mining is shallow and top fertile soil is not retained, it can result in soil erosion and degradation, reducing the land fertility.”

On altering hydrological balance, it added, “Disruption of natural drainage patterns due to sand mining can lead to water-logging. Sedimentation from shallow mining activities can pollute surface water bodies. Deep mining of sand and gravel, as was observed in the visited surrounding area, removes an important water filtering layer. For excessively mined land, chemicals in the runoff can pollute the groundwater aquifers.” The report further pointed out, “Large-scale sand mining can result in land subsidence, where the ground sinks due to the removal of underlying materials. If an adequate buffer zone is not provided between one farmer’s mined land, the adjoining land can also erode over time. The natural replenishment of sand is not possible in the mined area which is not on the riverbed. Jaidhar and Mandewala sites are not on the riverbed, so replenishment is highly unlikely.”

Before permitting mining on agricultural land, the panel says it is crucial to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment. This assessment should evaluate the potential impacts on soil fertility, water resources, biodiversity and local ecosystems. The panel noticed crops like sugarcane and wheat with popular agroforestry at fields in Jaidhar which reflected soil being fertile. At Mandewala, the wheat crop was found during inspection.

At Mandewala site, the panel noted that the insecticides, pesticides and fertilisers applied in the nearby field would enter into the mining pit during the rainy season and “there is every possibility of groundwater contamination as the pit is about 10m deep”.

Representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; Central Pollution Control Board; Indian Agricultural Research Institute; Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Dehradun; Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar; and Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal; and Haryana State Pollution Control Board were part of the panel.

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#Environment #National Green Tribunal NGT


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