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Bhopal City
NGT seeks clarification from MoEF on illegal mining issue
26-03-2015

BHOPAL: National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought response from Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) after it came to light that illegal mining is being carried out in the garb of levelling of land in parts of state.

Hearing a couple of petitions, the green panel observed that 'mining operations are being conducted as commercial activity in the guise of having obtained temporary quarry permits under Rule 68 of MP Minor Mineral Rules, 1996'.

As per contention of the state, temporary quarry permits do not require sanction of mining lease. Therefore even state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) did not entertain applications submitted by permit holders that since no mining lease had been granted, consideration of same by SEIAA for grant of environmental clearance (EC) was not required.

Petitioners, however, argued that in garb of obtaining temporary quarry permit, commercial activity of removal of minerals would amount to mining.

Central zone bench of NGT comprising judicial member Justice Dalip Singh and then expert member PS Rao averred that under Section 14 of the NGT Act, 2010, it was a substantial question of law.

“Whether after obtaining temporary quarry permit, any commercial activity of removal of mineral amounts to mining or not irrespective of whether it was removed in name of levelling or for developmental activities, is something that needs examination.”

NGT bench said, MoEF, which is custodian of environment needs to take a call on the issue and examine the rule in question. MoEF needs to ascertain if there is violation by taking recourse to said rule as in the given case, extraction of sand is being done from banks of river.

In such cases, whether issues relates to environment need to be taken into account requiring approval and EC for concerned body is required or not, NGT asked.

NGT directed if MoEF needs to issue direction for guidelines after examination, it must take up the same for protection and improvement of environment. State agencies and officers, who grant permits enter into issues which should be highlighted by MoEF even where such quarrying permits and licence are issued.

NGT pointed out in absence of guidelines on issues of granting permission for quarrying gave enough room for unbridled power to authority resulting in violation of spirit of Constitution.