New Delhi, May 8
Terming the environment and ecology national assets, the Supreme Court on Friday suspended all mining activities in the Aravali hills in Haryana.
The order means there can be no mining in an area of 448 sq Km- more than a third the size of Delhi’s 1,438 sq km across Faridabad, Gurgaon and Mewat that was once supposed to be set aside for a national park.
“Time has now come…to suspend mining in the above area till statutory provisions for restoration and reclamation are duly complied with, particularly in cases where pits/quarries have been left abandoned,” said the court.
Stating that the environment and ecology were “subject to inter-generational equity”, the court invoked the principle of sustainable development, which, it said, was part of Article 21 the constitution (right to life). The order was passed by a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G Balakrishnan.
Nothing that none of the statutory requirements had been complied with by the mining lease holders, the court said: “In the circumstances… we hereby suspend all mining operations in the Aravalli Hill Range falling in Haryana within the area of approximately 448 sq km in the districts of Faridabad and Gurgaon including Mewat….”
The court said the suspension would remain in force till a reclamation plan certified by Haryana, the environment and forests ministry and the court appointed central empowered committee was prepared in accordance with the statutory provisions, rules and guidelines.
On the issue of granting permission to Haryana to excavate minor minerals from a localized are of 600 hectares out of 448sq km for purposes of excavating construction material needed for construction of houses, sports complexes and other buildings, the court said it would be considered in July.
“In the past, when mining leases were granted, requisite clearances for carrying out mining operations were not obtained which have resulted in land and environmental degradation,” said the court.
It recalled how the court had in 2004 predicted, “If , despite stringent conditions, the degradation of environment continues and reaches a stage of no return, this court may have to consider, at a later date, the closure of mining activity in areas where there is such a risk.”
(“Time has now come…..to suspend mining in the above area till statutory provisions for restoration and reclamation are duly complied with…”
THE SUPREME COURT on Friday)
WHY THE BAN?
Lack of proper environmental clearance for mining operations
Failure to submit environmental management plan
Failure to rehabilitate mines after completion of mining
Depletion and contamination of groundwater
NO forestation done, leading to ecological degradation
WHAT ORDER MEANS
All mining operations in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Mewat stand suspended
The suspension is in place till a reclamation plan-certified by Haryana, the environment and forests ministry and a count appointed panel-is prepared in line with statutory provisions
The issue of allowing the mining of minor minerals in an area of 600 hectare will be decided later.
No order regarding construction, Stay on demolitions continues.
HT gets expert tips on how to use the area
“Japan had proposed to construct a golf course. It still could be pursued.”
Aman Nath, Founder of Neemrana Hotels and an arts restorer
“Area can be converted into a water sanctuary and bio-diversity park.” Diwan Singh, member of Ridge Bachchao Andolan
“The best thing will be to re-forest the entire area.”
K.T. Ravindran, Chairman, Delhi Urban Arts Commission
“Many old and abandoned quarries have been transformed into ecological Parks. A similar thing can be done with the area.”
A.G.K. Menon, convener, INTACH