‘Submit detailed report on mining activities in State’
High Court wants units operating without environmental clearance to be shut
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Industries Secretary to file a comprehensive report before the court by collecting details from all District Collectors with regard to the ongoing mining activities throughout the State.
A division bench of Justices K. Kalyanasundaram and V. Bhavani Subbaroyan directed the department to ascertain whether the environment clearance and the Coastal Regulatory Zone clearance were obtained for the mining activities across water beds and to issue orders to stop mining activities in those mines that had failed to obtain the clearance, within four weeks.
The court, hearing the appeal of the District Collector, Kanniyakumari, set aside a single bench order which had earlier allowed Indian Rare Earths Ltd, Kanniyakumari, to transport sand already collected in the mines and the finished product from the factory.
Indian Rare Earths Ltd, a company under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy, had been engaged in mining atomic minerals and beach minerals in Kanniyakumari.
The court observed that the applications filed for clearance were pending before the authorities and the failure to dispose the applications did not give the miners any right to get themselves involved in mining activities without obtaining the environment clearance.
The court questioned as to how 50,000 metric tonnes of raw sand and 7,500 metric tonnes of finished product could be claimed to have been mined legally by the miners, who, in their counter filed before the court, had said they were yet to get the environment and Coastal Regulation Zone clearance.
The court refused to accept the contention that not permitting the transport of sand would impact the livelihood of the people involved and development activities.
The court observed that permitting mining without clearance would endanger the marine habitat and would lead to environmental degradation.
The court further observed that sand mining had posed a threat to bio-diversity and led to environmental degradation.
Running afoul of law: The court asked how 50,000 metric tonnes of sand could have been mined legally, when the necessary clearances were yet to be given.