SC orders OMC to stall mining


A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan said: “The interim order of the high court (December 11, 2009) is stayed till January 4, the next date of hearing.”

However, the bench observed that the Andhra Pradesh High Court in its interim order had given enough relief to the company, which had challenged the State Government order dated November 25, 2009.

OMC advocate Mukul Rohtagi pleaded for the continuance of mining operations till the final disposal of the petition in accordance with the high court order with respect to about 114 hectares of mining area, legally leased out to the company.
“Having regard to the scope and ambit of power exercisable by the state under the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and the rules framed, it was legitimate on the part of the state to protect its assets from being plundered and to act in public interest,’’ said the petition filed before the court on Wednesday.

“The state requires to demarcate the boundaries of the existing leaseholders so as to arrive at a conclusion on the extent of the area involved in the boundary dispute, transgression of the boundaries and the extraction of iron ore by virtue of such violation of demarcated areas.

“In the absence of such demarcation, the division bench was not correct in law in assuming that the valid extent of the mining area in so far as not beyond 40 metres leading to the neighbouring boundary was appropriate in law,’’ the petition filed by the AP Government said, challenging the high court order.
The bench also issued notices to OMC, Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board to file their reply by January 4.
In pursuant to the CEC’s recommendations, the AP Industries and Commerce Department had issued a government order, suspending mining operations by all the six companies including that of Reddy’s.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, on the State Government’s request, had suspended their leases till the survey and demarcation were completed by the Survey of India.

The CEC had on November 19 recommended the suspension of mining operations, including the transportation of mined material by all the companies, till the boundaries were demarcated between them.
The bench also stayed the high court order, which had allowed the company to lift 1.95 lakh tonnes of ore on furnishing a bank guarantee for the value in accordance with the rates fixed.

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