SC: Do not renew lease of 157 mines in Aravallis

JAIPUR: In an order aimed at stopping further devastation of the Aravallis, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered closure of about 157 mines in the Aravallis whose lease had expired on December 16, 2002. The court was hearing a PIL filed by the Bandua Mukti Morcha against the state of Rajasthan for illegal mining in the Aravalli hills.

According to the Binu Tanta, the advocate on record for the Bandua Mukti Morcha, “The court order would affect about 157 mines in the state. The leases of these mines had expired on December 16, 2002, and were to be renewed. However, now the court has ordered that none of these leases should be renewed.”

The court order will immediately affect about 34 mines whose renewal process was almost complete. “Moreover, the state of Rajasthan has been giving affidavits saying that these mines were legal and that these mines are not in the Aravallis. So the court order is a blow to the state government,” added Tanta. The court has granted the state four months’ time to complete its proposed satellite imagery of the entire 15,000 km of the Aravalli range spanning 15 districts and present the status to it.

“The survey is to be conducted by the Forest Survey of India, the Rajasthan government in consultation and coordination with the Central Empowered Committee on the Aravallis. The court specifically mentioned that money will not be a problem and has asked the state to take Rs 5 crore from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) for the same,” a source said.

The CAMPA fund consist of money collected as penalty from various states in the country for diversion of forest land for non-forest use. This fund amounting to a total of Rs 11,000 crore, after a SC, has been released to all states for their use.

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