The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed mining of minor minerals in Faridabad and Palwal in the Aravalli Hills of Haryana.
A forest bench headed by Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan allowed mining of Badarpur sand and stones widely used as construction material in an area of 600 hectare.
But this is subject to mandatory environmental clearances and compliance of guidelines laid down by the apex court in previous judgments.
The permission is based on a report filed by the court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and Haryana government.
It said the latter will take immediate steps towards preparation and implementation of reclamation and rehabilitation plan for the area affected by unscientific mining.
The court, which had imposed a total ban on mining activities in eco-sensitive Aravalli range in Haryana on May 8, 2009, asked the state government to identify the 600 hectares for mining.
Once identified, the area would be given to mining firms by an open auction, the court said.
Permission for mining in another area of 1,500 hectare in Gurgaon district would be considered later, the court said.
Terming environment and ecology as national assets, the court had on May 8 suspended all mining activities in 448 square km in the Aravallis — more than a third the size of Delhi’s 1,438 sq km — across Faridabad, Gurgaon and Mewat.
In the next three months, Haryana has to notify transparent guidelines and procedure for auction of mines, establishment of Aravalli Rehabilitation Fund, establishment of a monitoring committee and deposit of an amount equal to 10 per cent of the auction money in the rehabilitation fund.
Additionally, 10 per cent of the auction money has to be kept by the successful bidder in a joint account with the state mines department.
Actual mining operations will commence only after the implementation of all these steps as also the implementation of the rehabilitation plan on the ground in six months.
The bench said it was taking a lenient view and allowing limited mining of minor minerals to meet the requirements of construction material.
The court said the Secretary of Mines Department, Haryana, will be responsible for compliance of its order under the supervision of the Chief Secretary.
Violations of its order would invite stern action, including closure of the mines, it said, adding the CEC will file quarterly reports to it.
The court also allowed Haryana to revoke the licences for mining of major minerals.