No mining from tomorrow in Haryana
Chandigarh, February 27 , THE TRIBUNE CHANDIGARH
Beginning March 1, mining activity is all set to come to a grinding halt in Haryana courtesy environment concerns.
With the framing of rules for securing environmental clearance for mines still pending, mining activity will have to be closed down in view of the expiry of the window period for framing of such rules to carry on mining given to Haryana by a High Court order beyond February 28. Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Mines, Yudhvir Singh Malik said, “We will be sending an advisory to our mining officers in the field to ensure that no mining takes place after tomorrow till the time the case of environmental clearance is decided.”
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), in September 2006, issued a note stating that environmental clearance for all projects would be mandatory and applied it to mining as well. However, since the MoEF’s preceding notification (1994) exempted mining of minor minerals (essentially construction material), Haryana went ahead with it awarding its mines on lease, maintaining that it was up to the successful bidder to get environmental clearance.
However, this was challenged in the High Court where it was stated that this notification was not applicable to mining of minor minerals. The High Court, in its order in May 2009, ruled that environmental clearance was mandatory for minor minerals as well. Giving time to Haryana till February 28, 2010, the court said the state should prepare its terms of reference and submit it to the expert appraisal committee for framing rules under the environment impact assessment report.
The government of Haryana prepared the same and submitted these to the committee, which in turn, said it did not have the mandate to prepare the rules under the EIA. Subsequently, the committee went into a review of the order as did Haryana. The department added that it was willing to frame rules if the need so arises but would require time and sought an extension of deadline. Meanwhile, a special leave petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the time allocated to Haryana by the High Court for framing of rules for environmental clearance. This SLP will be taken up for hearing on March 19 after which the fate of the mines in the state will be known. The High Court has already expressed its inability to pass any order in the matter since the hearing on the SLP is slated for March 19.
This means that none of the mines, given on contract or lease, can function for the time being. A majority of the mines in Haryana are auctioned for minor minerals. While those in Panchkula and Yamunanagar have been auctioned for boulders, gravel and sand, those in Ambala, Karnal, Panipat, Sonepat and Faridabad have been given for river sand along the Yamuna while the mines in Rewari have been auctioned for sandstone. A few mines are operational in Dadri as well.