Uttarakhand government to challenge high court mining ban in Supreme Court
The Uttarakhand HC had on Tuesday banned mining across the state for four months while directing the state government to form a “high level committee” to recommend guidelines to stop illegal mining and reclaim mined areas.dehradun Updated: Mar 30, 2017 19:33 IST
The Uttarakhand government would soon move the Supreme Court against a high court order banning mining across the state for four months.
“We will soon file a special leave petition in the apex court seeking recall of the HC order that imposed a blanket ban on mining across the state for four months,” director, mining, Vinay Shankar Pandey said.
The Uttarakhand HC had on Tuesday banned mining across the state for four months while directing the state government to form a “high level committee” to recommend guidelines to stop illegal mining and reclaim mined areas. Following the order mining work has come to a halt in rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna, Gaula, Kosi, Dabka, and Kali and nearly 100 seasonal rivers and rivulets apart from forest areas.
Pandey said that the government would challenge the ban order on several grounds that “are crucial to the interests” of the state. “The order has not only resulted in staggering revenue losses. It has also affected the construction activity hampering development across the state,” Pandey said.
State finance minister Prakash Pant confirmed that the government would move the apex court against the high court ban order. “It (ban order) has also rendered hundreds of workers engaged in mining jobless besides causing staggering revenue losses”, he told HT.
According to Pandey, if the ban order is not revoked all minor and big projects would be affected. “It will not affect just the maintenance of roads in the Chardham where the annual pilgrimage will soon start”, he said. “The construction on a number of hydropower projects coming up in the mountain state would also be badly affected, thanks to the ban order.”
Work on the ₹12,000 crore ‘all weather road project’ announced recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Chardham would also be hampered. “The order will also create a crisis hampering construction of private buildings and residences etc,” Pandey said, adding that post the mining ban order, the cost of construction material has “reportedly shot up sky high as people are forced to buy it from areas outside the state.”
A source in the government said the high court issued the order without declaring the central government’s Major and Minor Minerals Act as ultra vires. “It is that law, which regulates all mining activity in the state. Since the high court did not declare it ultra vires, the ban order is legally weak,” the source said.
Secretary, finance, Amit Negi said the state government would suffer a “substantial” revenue loss of up to Rs 200 crore due to the ban. “The next four months, when mining is banned, are crucial as maximum mining activity takes place during that period,” he said. “It (mining activity) stops once the monsoon season starts.”
Negi said the state government had fixed a revenue target of ₹550 crore from mining in the current fiscal (1917-18). “Normally, our (government) annual revenue from mining comes to ₹350 crore,” he added.