Peeved at the lackadaisical attitude of the Punjab government in not seeking environment clearance from the Centre for mining of minor minerals,the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday issued contempt notices to two senior IAS officers.
Contempt notices were issued to former principal secretary (Industries and Commerce) A R Talwar and current Principal Secretary Karan Avtar Singh after the high court was apprised that since August 17 last year,the Punjab government has moved only a single application seeking environment clearance from the Central government.
As many as 241 operational projects for mining less than five hectares are hanging fire in Punjab. Last year,in August,the Supreme Court had made environment clearance mandatory for mining of minor minerals for even less than five hectares. Since then,the Punjab government had filed only one application before the Centre seeking environment clearance,a Punjab law officer told the high court on Tuesday.
The court,on the last date of hearing,had sought details from the Centre as to how many applications,moved by Punjab seeking clearance,are pending with it (Centre).
Appearing on behalf of the Union government,Advocate Onkar Singh Batalvi sought more time to file a response. The Punjab law officer,on the other hand,informed the court that except one among the total 241 cases,in no other case has the government sought environment clearance from the Centre.
This,the bench observed,was wilful disobedience of Supreme Court directions. Following this,the court issued notice to the IAS officers,asking them to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against the two for not complying with court orders.
In its defence,the Punjab law officer cited the rules framed by the government in March this year. However,in response,the bench highlighted the inconvenience being caused to locals due to illegal mining and projects pending in wake of non-grant of environment clearance.