Extending its stay on the e-auction of 115 minor mineral (sand or gravel) quarries in 19 districts of Punjab, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday summoned the state government's industries and commerce secretary to inform about the status of all environment clearance cases since September last year.
The directions came from the division bench headed by justice Jasbir Singh on a petition filed by Chandigarh resident Barinder Singh Dhillon. The state was to hold the e-auction of minor mineral quarries from July 1 to 3 as per the auction notice issued on June 14, but the process was stayed by the high court on July 1.
The court directed the Punjab government's secretary concerned to inform as to how many environment clearance applications were sent to the union ministry of environment and forests since September last year, how many got the clearance, how many were pending and the reasons for pendency. The court also asked the status of dismissed applications and the reasons for their dismissal.
The court also directed the central government's counsel Onkar Singh Batalvi to get the same information from the union ministry of environment and forests by August 13, the next date of hearing, as was sought from the Punjab government.
The e-auction was proposed for minor mineral quarries in the districts of Faridkot, Moga, Barnala, Sangrur, Ferozepur, Mansa, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Bathinda, Rupnagar, Hoshiarpur, Fazilka, SAS Nagar, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana, Pathankot and Kapurthala.
The petitioner had challenged the auction on the ground that as per the June 14 notice, obtaining prior environmental clearance by the state government, as directed by the high court, had been completely ignored. The court was informed that the highest bidder now had to himself obtain approval of the environment management plan from the district-level committee.