The principal bench of Rajasthan High Court on Thursday ordered mining lessees, quarry licensees and short term permit holders of the state to obtain environment clearance from the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Committee within a period of three months or else their licences would be seized.
There are over 29,000 such mines.
According to the Directorate of Mines and Geology, there are 18,249 quarry licenses, 11,861 mining lease and 3,403 major mineral leases allotted till 2013-2014.
None of the quarry license holders have environmental clearance while less than 500 mines have the required green nod.
The HC, while terming as illegal and ultra vires to the amendments made in the Rajasthan Minor Mineral Concession Rules (MMCR), 1986 on June 19, 2012, said the provisions of amendment are contrary to the decision of Supreme Court (SC) in Deepak Kumar Vs Haryana state case and EIA notification 2006 issued by Union ministry of environment and forest under the Environment Protection Act.
The division bench, comprising Chief Justice Sunil Ambwani and Justice Ajeet Singh delivered the verdict on a public interest
The court also observed that the government, due to its narrow political and short-sighted vision, made the allotments to hundreds of mines on lease, quarry license and short term permit without them having the green clearance and added ‘it is harmful for environment’.
The high court also ordered the state government not to allot any new mining lease; quarry license and short term permit and renew the same until the amendments are reviewed by the SC.
Counsel for the petitioner Sandeep Shah argued that the SC in its decision on February 27, 2012 made it compulsory to obtain environment clearance for the mining area of less than 5 hectares also.
The SC also ordered all states to make the amendments in rules in accordance to it.