The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday directed the Punjab government to place on record a detailed policy that defines the catchment area by the side of rivers in the state where mining cannot be permitted.
The division bench headed by justice Jasbir Singh also directed the state government to inform the court as to what were the requirements for running stone crushers and who were the officers competent for compounding challans of illegal mining.
The directions came during the hearing of a bunch of petitions challenging illegal mining in Punjab and seeking permission for crushing stones even if the boulders had to be brought from neighbouring states because of the ban on mining in the state.
Appearing for a petitioner, Darshan Singh, advocate Mansur Ali argued that there was an urgent need for defining the catchment area of rivers, otherwise illegal mining could not be stopped.
During the hearing of the case, Sukhminder Singh, state geologist, submitted an affidavit showing the amendments approved in the cabinet meeting held on May 28 in the existing policy guidelines for registration and working of stone crushers, 2012.
But the court refused to accept the amendments mentioned in a single page as the same did not mention about the catchment (prohibited) area for mining beside rivers, thus leaving space for illegal mining.
However, as per the amendments approved in the cabinet meeting, stone crusher owners have to file monthly production returns and value-added tax assessment returns quarterly (if applicable) to the state government. Stone crushers had been directed to maintain proper stock registers, mineral transit passes, weightment slips, electricity bills etc. It was mentioned that the operation of stone crushers would be monitored by the district-level committee and district-level environment management cell constituted under the rules.
The state government has been granted two weeks' time to file its response.