Ahmedabad: Cracking the whip, Gujarat High Court today directed the state government to immediately stop all mining activities which do not have environment clearances.
The division bench of Justices R R Tripathi and Mohinder also directed the government to strictly adhere to the Supreme Court's guidelines issued on February 27, 2012.
The apex court had ruled that the states can grant leases (or renew them) for mining minor minerals even in less than five hectares area only after prior approval from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).
There are 2,887 mines that are located within five kilometres of forest area, nature parks, reserved forests, and sanctuaries in the state.
"The state is directed to stop the excavation from these mines and resume the possession of the area. Any grant of mining leases in these areas in future should be as per the Supreme Court guidelines. Prior environment clearance is must and should be allotted to bidders only after auction of the leases," the court said.
The court further said those mines that were given permission before the apex court order could continue mining for six months but will have to obtain environment clearance within three months.
Following the expiry of this mining lease, the court said, the government will conduct auction again and it will bethe bidder's liability to obtain the environment clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.
The court took a serious note of some glaring examples of laxity in approval of mines in the list of 7,990 lease holders submitted by the state government.
"In certain cases, the state government has not mentioned the place or survey number of the land where mining takes places. This looks like a magical trick. Irrespective of period of the grant or renewal, such mines must be cancelled immediately."
Petitioner in the present case, Natwarsingh Rathore, had applied for mining lease, but it was denied because the land was close to the forest area. He then moved the high court, complaining that this condition was being flouted in many other cases.
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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2014 08:20:38 IST