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Indian Case Summary

Himmat Singh Shekhawat vs State Of Rajasthan on 26 February, 2021 – Case Summary

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In the case of Himmat Singh Shekhawat vs State Of Rajasthan on 26 February, 2021, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was presided over by Adarsh Kumar Goel, Sheo Kumar Singh, and Nagin Nanda. The case was one among a series of other applications related to environmental concerns and violations across various states in India.

The case was heard along with several other applications involving different states and respondents, all revolving around environmental concerns and violations. The primary issues discussed in the case were the enforcement of the Sustainable Sand Mining and Management Guidelines, 2016 (SSMG-2016) and the Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining, 2020 (EMGSM-2020), the compensation regime, the procedure for seizure and release of vehicles involved in illegal mining, and the need for periodic interaction among stakeholders.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) had issued the SSMG-2016 under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EP Act, 1986) on 15.01.2016. In light of the September 2016 report of the High-Powered Committee, the Tribunal directed the revision of the guidelines. Consequently, the MoEF&CC issued the EMGSM-2020, which was uploaded on the website on 27.01.2020 and communicated to all the states.

The Tribunal also discussed the issue of seizure and release of vehicles used in illegal sand mining. It was noted that seizure of such vehicles is required and release of seized vehicles lightly defeats the purpose of the coercive measures. The Tribunal directed that such vehicles should be released only on the payment of 50% of the showroom value.

The Tribunal also considered the scale of compensation to be recovered for violation of norms for mining on the polluter pays principle. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had submitted a report suggesting two approaches for calculating the compensation. The Tribunal approved the second approach which involved computing a simplified Net Present Value (NPV) for ecological damages.

The case also touched upon the procedure for the preparation of District Survey Report (DSR) for sand mining/riverbed mining. The Tribunal held that for such a crucial exercise, the Experts should be out of those accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Education and Training/ Quality Control Council of India (NABT/QCCI) in terms of O.M. of MoEF&CC dated 16.03.2010. Verification by the District Magistrate and evaluation by the SEAC was also necessary.

The case of Himmat Singh Shekhawat vs State Of Rajasthan, therefore, dealt with a range of environmental issues and violations, with a particular focus on sand mining and the associated guidelines and regulations. The Tribunal’s observations and judgments in this case have significant implications for the enforcement of environmental laws and guidelines in India.