SC puts curbs on mining to restore forests

SC puts curbs on mining to restore forests

Bench relies on Haryana case judgment, seeks Centres opinion

SC puts curbs on mining to restore forests

“We want to know the impact of mining on the environment and forest aspect, besides the effect on financial part (to exchequer),” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said.

The court said it could consider lifting the ban on mining activity only if the miners could convince it that they could restore the damage caused to the environment and forest.
“You tell us, how could you restore the area? What steps would you take? We want the area to be restored only after that we can consider the plea for mining that too we can allow scientific mining only,” the bench said.

“We are merely concerned about the impact on the enviro­nment. We are concerned that rules and regulations are being complied or not,” it added.

The court also asked the Centrally-empowered Committee (CEC) to apprise it about steps that could be taken to “restore and rehabilitate” the forest.

Proceedings in the matter began with amicus curiae Shyam Divan reading out the excerpts of the CEC report submitted on April 15 and a joint survey team tabled on July 4.

Divan said the committee did not find any illegal activity in the seven mines. The Bench said the ban on mining would remain until the entire area was not reclaimed.

“We are going to rely on the Haryana judgment (relating to mi­ning in the Arawali region). Even if it is legal – if there is any damage to the environm­ent—let the mining be banned,” the Bench, which also comprised Justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar, said.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged that the mining activity has continued in the Bellary region in Karnataka after misrepresentation of facts and under subterfuge.

He referred to the Lokayukta report to allege that 90 per cent mines were located in the forest areas.

The CEC had earlier sla­mmed the Karnataka government for failing to stop illegal mining in the Bellary region. During the hearing, the court also directed the Attorney General G E Vahanvati to represent the viewpoint of Centre in the matter. “We want the AG to represent Ministry of Forest and Environment. This is not a simple matter,” the court said.