The Uttarakhand High Court on 28 March 2017 ordered ‘complete’ ban on mining activities in the State for four months.
The order was passed by a division bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia while hearing a PIL filed by Navin Chandra Pant in 2016. The order was passed just four days after a forest worker was allegedly killed while chasing the mining mafia in Ramnagar.
The court also directed the state government led by Trivendra Singh Rawat to form a “high-level committee” to recommend guidelines to stop illegal mining and reclaim mined areas. The committee will also assess the expanse of river bed mining in the state and submit its report within four months.
About the “High-Level Committee”
• The chairman of the committee should be the secretary of the environment and forest department or his nominee. The nominee must not be below the rank of additional secretary.
• Other members of the committee should be Director General of Forest Research Institute, Dehradun; Director of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun and Director General of Geological Survey of India, Dehradun.
• Rajendra Mahajan, the principal chief conservator of forest, and D Sainthil Pandiyan, the Commissioner of Kumaon, would act as Secretary and Nodal officer of the Committee respectively.
• The committee will have to look into various aspects of mining activities in the state and find out that mining activity should be allowed in the state or not, if yes, then provide suggestions for next five decades.
• For functioning of the committee and meet the daily expenses, the court has ordered to release a sum of Rs 50 lakh.
• The committee will submit its interim report in four months and a final report in nine months.
• It will also suggest the ways to make up for the loss incurred by environment.
The court in its order said that till submission of the report, there will be a complete ban on mining activities in rivers, rivulets and streams in Uttarakhand. Mining in forest areas also falls under this ban.
Besides, the court also ordered the state government to refrain itself from granting any fresh licence or mining lease or reconnaissance or prospecting licence till the report of the committee is not submitted.
Comment: The order may stop mining in the interstate rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Dabka, Kosi and Kali. It will also restrict mining in about 100 seasonal rivers and rivulets on foothills of the state. It will also protect the forest area from being mined. This ban may be for a limited period will help the forests, rivers and rivulets to heal its ecological balance to some amount.