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Aravalli hills: No final permission for mining be granted by 4 states till further orders, says SC

The apex court noted that there were certain issues with regard to illegal mining and mining under the permissions granted by the states, one of the major issues being the different definitions of Aravalli hills and ranges adopted by different states.

Screenshot 2024 05 10 090949NEW DELHI: The Aravallis have to be protected, the Supreme Court said on Thursday and directed Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat to not accord final permission for mining activities in the hill range until further orders.

The bench said its order shall in no way be construed as prohibiting legal mining activities which are already being carried out in accordance with valid permits and licences.

“We are passing this order for all the four states (through which the hill range runs,” a bench of Justices B R Gavai and A S Oka said.

It made it clear that the order is restricted only to mining in the Aravalli hills and its ranges.

“Until further orders, though all the states wherein Aravalli ranges are situated would be at liberty to consider and process application for grant of mining leases… and also for renewal thereof, no final permission shall be granted for mining in the Aravalli hills as defined in the FSI (Forest Survey of India) report,” the bench said.

The apex court noted that there were certain issues with regard to illegal mining as well as mining under the permissions granted by the states, and one of the major issues was with regard to different definitions of Aravalli hills and ranges as adopted by different states.

It said a report submitted by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has pointed out various illegal mining activities carried out throughout the state of Rajasthan and district-wise details have also been given with regard to the area under illegal mining.

“We find that the issue with regard to the mining activities in the Aravalli hills needs to be addressed jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) as well all the four states — Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, state of Rajasthan, state of Haryana and state of Gujarat,” it said.

The bench ordered constitution of a committee to arrive at a uniform definition of the Aravalli hills and ranges.

It said the committee shall comprise, among others, the Secretary of MoEF&CC, the secretaries of forest of all these four states and one representative each of the FSI and CEC.

The bench said the committee shall submit its report within two months.

It noted the submissions of advocate K Parameshwar, who is assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the matter, that until further orders, no fresh mining leases or renewal of existing mining leases shall be permitted in the Aravalli ranges in the states of Rajasthan and Haryana.

The bench noted that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Haryana, Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, appearing for Rajasthan, and an advocate representing the federation of associations of mining in Rajasthan has opposed the suggestion of the amicus.

It said they have submitted that millions of labourers were dependent on the mining activities carried out in these states, and if such an order is passed, it will have a cascading effect on their livelihood.

The bench observed a total ban on mining was not conducive even from the point of view of environment as it would lead to illegal mining.

It posted the matter for further hearing in August.

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