Aravalli mining: SC reserves order

Indian Express ,
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/aravalli-mining-sc-reserves-order/440109/

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its verdict on whether a complete ban could be imposed on mining activities in the Aravalli-range areas falling within Faridabad and Gurgaon districts.

But questioning the aftermath of a ban, the Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan asked, “What would be done if nothing happens (after a ban is imposed)?” The Bench made the comment while senior advocate Ranjeet Kumar, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the case, pressed hard for accepting recommendations of the central empowered committee.

Even as the amicus strongly pressed for imposing a total ban on mining in the eco-fragile Aravalli zone, the Bench wanted to be certain about areas falling within the range that are likely to be affected if a ban was to be ordered. “What would be the area where this ban would operate, as some of them (mine owners) have argued their mines are 28 kilometres from Delhi?” asked Justice S H Kapadia, who was also part of the Bench comprising CJI Balakrishnan and Justice Arijit Pasayat

To this query from the Bench, senior counsel Kumar pointed out that areas where quarrying is proposed to be outlawed are in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Mewat regions. “The fact is there has been total devastation (of ecology in the areas),” he stressed. “This is what has prompted Haryana Government to seek a ban for 10 years on mining in areas falling within the Aravalli range.”The court also questioned how so many licences could be given to one or two groups. “How were so many applications allowed for just one group?”CJI Balakrishnan asked when it was brought to the court’s attention that majority of the mines in the area belong to Sethi group of mines. As amicus Ranjeet Kumar told the Bench that 13 out of 21 mines belongs to the Sethi group, he underlined that the court should direct a ban to be imposed.

Earlier, during the marathon hearing spread over a week, the court had observed, “Whatever statutory action has to be taken is to be by the State or Centre; the Court has nothing to do with it.”

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