No mining activity can continue without forest clearance in Odisha: Supreme Court

Updated on Jun 07, 2022 12:07 AM IST

The top court asserted that no mining activity can continue without obtaining FC as it refused permission to a private miner in Odisha to continue with operations without the clearance mandated under Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal of M/s Balasore Alloys Limited of Odisha challenging a high court order by which it had refused to continue with the status quo order favouring the firm. (Archive)
The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal of M/s Balasore Alloys Limited of Odisha challenging a high court order by which it had refused to continue with the status quo order favouring the firm. (Archive)
ByAbraham Thomas

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday took strong note of illegal mining of minerals by some firms in Odisha without obtaining forest clearance (FCs) from authorities under the garb of “status quo” orders and directed the high court to dispose of such matters in six months.

The top court asserted that no mining activity can continue without obtaining FC as it refused permission to a private miner in Odisha to continue with operations without the clearance mandated under Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

The court was hearing an appeal of M/s Balasore Alloys Limited of Odisha challenging a high court order by which it had refused to continue with the status quo order favouring the firm.

Finding such a practice to be illegal, a Supreme Court bench of justices MR Shah and Anirudhha Bose said: “Under the guise of status quo order, you cannot continue mining without obtaining forest clearance. It cannot be done.”

The firm had applied for forest clearance but was yet to be issued one. In 2016, he approached the high court and obtained a “status quo” order by which it continued chrome mining operations in the state. However, in an interim order on May 20 this year, the court refused to extend the status quo further and posted the petition filed by the company in July, prompting the firm to move the top court.

Appearing for the firm, advocate Anusha Nagarajan informed the bench that the company is required to remove extracted ore but state authorities were not permitting the same as the status quo order was no longer in place.

“Anything which has been excavated without the forest clearance is illegal. You cannot be permitted to excavate without obtaining forest clearance. The high court has been right in not extending the status quo,” the bench said.

As the top court allowed the company to withdraw its petition and pursue the one already pending before the high court, it also requested the high court to decide in six months all cases where mining continued to take place on the basis of “status quo” orders and without requisite clearances in place.

“It is unfortunate that high courts are passing such orders of status quo and permitting mining work to continue,” the top court said.

“We request the high court to decide and dispose of all such pending matters where the order of status quo has continued since long and mining activities have been continuing under the order of status quo, within a period of six months from today,” it added.

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