The Maharashtra government’s hopes that the ban on sand mining would be lifted after it announced a policy on the activity on Wednesday, were dashed when the Bombay High Court refused to vacate the stay on excavation.
The matter came up for hearing on Thursday before a division bench of Justice BH Marlapalle and Justice UD Salvi.
Ravi Kadam, advocate general, placed the noting of the cabinet meeting, in which the draft sand mining policy was approved, before the court. The note also urged the judges to vacate the stay imposed a month ago.
The court declined to consider the request after Kadam said it will take a few days to come out with a specific notification promulgating the draft policy because the procedure requires that the minutes of the meeting be confirmed.
The bench will hear the matter on Monday.
Coal India had requested the court to vacate the stay saying its subsidiary in Vidharbha, Western Coal Fields, was on the verge of closure because of the ban. An organisation from Bhiwandi also joined them in seeking an exemption from the ban.
The court refused to vacate the stay saying it will consider the plea on Monday.
The high court had banned sand mining across the state on September 23 because the government failed to come out with a comprehensive policy on sand mining although the court had first expressed a need for it a decade ago.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a group of manual sand miners requesting that the state be directed not to issue tenders or permits to excavate sand at a particular spot on Savitri River. The court gave the state time twice but it failed to come out with a comprehensive policy.
The bench, referring to Wednesday’s policy, lauded the provision authorising gram panchayats to decide whether to allow sand excavation within their areas. The court suggested the appellate authority in the matter comprise more than one member and should also include a geologist to ensure the decisions are taken on a scientific basis.