Apex court reserves order on resumption of mining

The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its order on resumption of mining in ‘A’ category of mines having minimum illegalities while indicating that it may allow re-opening of those leases for extraction of iron ores to meet demands of the steel industry but without allowing any damage to environment.

A three-judge forest bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam said that the mining operations could be resumed in those 21 working and 24 non-working mines kept in ‘A’ category by Central Empowered Committee (CEC) only after they fulfilled all statutory compliances and ensured complete implementation of the rehabilitation and reclamation plan. The bench said that it would pass an order — if the resumption of mining in ‘A’ category of mines could be allowed as per the recommendation of the CEC — on Monday. 

“If all statutory guidelines are complied with, we see no reasons as to why not allow mining,” the bench, also comprising Justices Swatanter Kumar and K S Radhakrishnan, said.

The court said that the Comprehensive Environment Plan for Mining Impact Zone (CEPMIZ) and Supplementary Environment Management Plan (SEMP) as suggested by the CEC would have strictly adhered with by all the lease holders before any re-opening of mining could be permitted.

The court, however, clarified that the direction for resumption of mining in those mines in Bellary, Chitradurga and Tumkur districts would not come in the way of any on-going independent inquiry or investigation against a particular lease holder.“We fully appreciate your concerns but we can’t take the state into pre-iron age,” Justice Alam said, brushing aside the apprehension expressed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya.

Bhushan submitted that there were six different kinds of illegalities committed by even those ‘A’ category of mines in contrast to the CEC’s stance which placed them in that position after having recorded no encroachment in their lease areas.“There are instances where

‘A’ category lease holder had also possessed leases falling in ‘C’ category whose licences were recommended to be cancelled by the CEC,” he said.
“We want to ensure that the minimum extraction of iron ores without any damage to the environment,” the court rebutted.

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