Sand Mining (Representative Image)
Sand Mining (Representative Image)
Litigation News

"The rivers have inherent right to flow without hindrance": P&H HC issues directions to curb illegal mining on Sutlej River Bed [Read Order]

Interestingly, the Court has also urged the Department to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs/'Drones') to monitor occurrences of illegal mining.

Lydia Suzanne Thomas

Issuing notice in a petition seeking the Court's interference against illegal mining on the banks of the Sutlej river, the Punjab and Haryana High Court condemned the unlawful extraction of minerals stating:

"The excessive extraction of minerals poses grave threat to the bridges / National Highway, State Highway...The rivers have inherent right to flow without hindrance."
Punjab and Haryana High Court

"In the larger public interests of saving the environment and regulate sand mining", the Bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Harinder Singh Sidhu issued a number of directions.

The Police and the State have been tasked with ensuring:

  1. No heavy machinery or vehicle such as a bulldozer (JCB) is used to extract sand and gravel from the river bed.

  2. Mining depth is to be restricted to a maximum limit of three metres on the river bed.

  3. The prohibition of mining activity: (i) 1 kilometre from major bridges (ii) ½ kilometre from small bridges upstream and down-stream. (iii) 1 kilometre from the National Highways and (iv) ½ kilometre from State Highways.

Further, the Court has instructed the Punjab Government and its Commissioners of Police to constitute flying squads to monitor illegal mining activity. As per the High Court's order, officers from the mining, revenue, and police departments will staff these squads.

Interestingly, the Court has urged the Department to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs/'Drones') to monitor occurrences of illegal mining. Apart from this, the State has been asked to prepare a 'River Replenishment Report' at half-yearly intervals, and also file a status report at the next date of hearing.

The State should also evolve a method and procedure to monitor the sale and purchase of sand, the Court stated.

With the direction upon the State to file a status report at the next hearing, the matter was posted for further hearing on September 30.

The plea by one, Bakhsish Singh through Advocate Lakhwinder Singh Mann records that illegal sand mining is taking place in their villages along the banks of the Sutlej river and even on the river bed. The plea states that heavy machines have been deployed to excavate sand from the river bed.

The situation has supposedly become so dire that the course of the river has shifted leading to floods, the Court was told.

Read the Order here:

Bakhsish Singh and Ors. v. State of Punjab and Ors. - Interim Order dated September 11.pdf
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