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SC leaves decision on mining ban to state

The Supreme Court made it clear on Wednesday that if any ban on mining activity in the Aravalli range was to be imposed,it would entirely be the state’s prerogative...

Written by Tannu Sharma | New Delhi |
March 19, 2009 11:37:45 pm

ARAVALLI HILLS: ‘Since it has agreed to the panel’s recommendations,it’s for the state to act on it’

The Supreme Court made it clear on Wednesday that if any ban on mining activity in the Aravalli range was to be imposed,it would entirely be the state’s prerogative since it had agreed with the Central Empowered Committee’s recommendations on this. The committee had called for widespread demolition and the closure of all mines in Faridabad and Gurgaon districts in the Aravalli range.

“It’s not that the Supreme Court is putting a ban. We must be very clear. We cannot stop them (Haryana administration),” remarked the three-member special bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan at the end of a daylong hearing into the issue of whether to allow construction and mining at the cost of environment.

“Since it has agreed to the Central Empowered Committee’s recommendations,it’s for the state to act on it,” observed Justice Arijit Pasayat,who was also part of the bench,along with the CJI and Justice S H Kapadia.

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In case a complete ban is to be imposed on mining,as was suggested by the high-powered environment panel,the court attempted to shift the onus on the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government. It remarked: “If the state (Haryana) in concurrence with the Central government wants to act upon these recommendations,we cannot stop them,” said Justice Pasayat on behalf of the ‘green’ bench.

The observations came following extensive submissions by senior advocate Ranjeet Kumar and amicus curiae A D N Rao,who strongly pressed for seeking directions to accept the Central Empowered Committee’s report. In its report submitted before the apex court in January 2009,the court-appointed environment panel,comprising environmentalists and bureaucrats,had recommended that all existing mining leases be revoked.

The Central Empowered Committee had also asked the state government that no mining of major minerals be permitted,while mining for minor minerals — construction material — could be allowed,for which up to 600 hectare be identified in Faridabad. And no more than 30 hectares would be given to an individual,it had suggested.

Agreeing with the committee,Chief Secretary Daharam Vir had said in his affidavit: “The State of Haryana is in complete agreement with the recommendations. The court may kindly settle the principles proposed in the report.”

With the observations made on Wednesday,it seems the court is willing to leave the issue to the state to take whatever step it contemplates to regulate the constructions or mining activity in the eco-fragile zone of Aravalli,“which has witnessed complete devastation of the environment”.

‘Faridabad principles applicable to Gurgaon’
Gurgaon may have to bear the brunt of the widespread constructions that have come up in every nook and corner of the 58 villages on the Aravalli Hills in Gurgaon. In its report with regard to mining,constructions and other activities in the area,placed on Wednesday,the Central Empowered Committee said: “The committee is of the view that the broad principles and recommendations made by it in its report in respect of Aravalli Hills areas in Faridabad district are equally applicable in respect of such area falling in Gurgaon district.”

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