Supreme Court's special forest bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Thursday directed the Haryana Government to prepare a policy to restore and rehabilitate the eco-sensitive Aravalli range that has been devastated due to illegal mining.
The policy has to contain the conditions that would be imposed on the lessee (license holder) as per the restoration plan. "If the lessee does not implement the policy, the government would be at the liberty to cancel the permit," the bench told the litigating parties in the case.
It, however, wasn't in favour of allowing Haryana's plea to cancel the existing licenses of the companies that carried out major mining in the Aravalli range before SC banned it in May last year.
The court allowed mining of minor minerals, mainly used as construction material, and directed the state to identify 600 hectares for the purpose.
Haryana government's latest plea to cancel the licenses was on the ground that it was unable to clear a patch of 600 hectares of land in Faridabad area for permitting mining of minor minerals, mainly used as construction material.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who is assisting the court in the case, said cancellation was important to make arrangements for the land as per the SC's direction in its May 2008 order. Kumar added the earmarked site was overlapping with the area that was already within the possession of leaseholders for major mining.
The court disagreed with Kumar and said its primary concern was to undo the devastation that took place due to the illegal mining operation going on for years in the Aravalli range. The activity was in violation of various SC judgments and without any environmental clearance.
"If you cancel the license, the companies would be not be under obligation to assist the government in restoring the environment. Let the lease continue and the government can introduce stringent conditions that have to be complied with by these companies," the bench suggested.