NGT seeks clarification from MoEF on illegal mining issue
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
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.