Panaji: Continuous illegal sand mining in defiance of its orders and the authorities' inaction have prompted the National Green Tribunal to direct the Goa government to use armed police, if required, to stop the menace.
"We direct that the Directorate of Mines and Geology, Goa, through police authorities and the collectors of North/South Goa as well as the captain of ports department, coastal security police department and GCZMA, shall conduct strict vigilance in the night," the Pune bench of the NGT has said.
Media reports have on several occasions highlighted how illegal sand mining is taking place brazenly and in rampant violation of rules, despite a ban on the activity.
"Licences of offending vessels be deposited with the Captain of Ports and necessary police help, if required armed police, be provided to dispel evil elements dealing in murky business of sand extraction.
"The licences of illegally used vessels shall not be renewed or returned to vessel owners without approval and permission of this tribunal," the bench observed.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by two people -- one from Camurlim and another in Arabo - two villages on the opposite banks of the Chapora river in North Goa, alleging that the rampant sand extraction in the middle of the river and in the vicinity of an uninhabited island especially at night was threatening the island, Zuim de Tuem.
"The Goa coastal zone management authority (GCZMA) can exercise power to control such illegal activity when the vessels are used for illegal transportation of sand extracted from the river bed," the bench observed.
Sand mining in Goa is an activity that is being carried out for several years without any permission, even as the State government plans to issue sand mining leases and environmental clearances to streamline the activity.
However, the illegal activity has remained unchecked for long and is continuing at night in violation of the NGT ban.