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Apex Court Allows Writ Petition By Rural Litigation And Entitlement Kendra On Illegal Limestone Mining In Mussoorie Hills Impacting The Natural Ecosystem - Provides Further Relief To The Mine Lessees

Shivani Negi ,
  01 August 2023       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
AIR 1985 S.C. 652, 1985 SCR (3) 169

Date of Order:

1985

Bench:

Justice P.N. Bhagwati

Justice Amerendra Nath

Justice Rangnath Mishra

Parties:

PETITIONER:

RURAL LITIGATION AND ENTITLEMENT KENDRA DEHRADUN & ORS.

    Vs.

RESPONDENT:

STATE OF U.P. & ORS.

SUBJECT

  • The Apex Court acknowledged a writ petition from Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra regarding illegal limestone mining in Mussoorie Hill, India, causing environmental harm and affecting water springs.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

  • Articles 32 and 48A of the Indian Constitution, The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Central Act No. 69, Acts of Parliament, 1980, and The Mines Act, 1952.

OVERVIEW

  • Doon Valley, part of the Mussoorie hill strings in The Himalayas, was once prosperous with numerous rivers. However, limestone mining led to degrading conditions in the 1950s, with increased mining activities between 1955 and 1965.
  • Exploding minerals for extraction led to a lack of vegetation in the valley, causing floods, high temperatures, landslides,
  •  water scarcity, and cropland obliteration.
  • The state banned mining industries in 1961, but in 1962, the government held leases for mining and excavation. In 1982, the Allahabad High Court authorized mining, valuing economic benefits over ecological protection.

ISSUES RAISED

  • Whether or not the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 will be valid in the resumption of leases? 
  • Whether mining operations in government woods were in violation of the Forest Conservation Act?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT

  • The contention was that Doon Valley environmental demolition disrupts citizens' right to a healthy environment, violating Article 21 of the Constitution and requiring central government authorization for mining operations in forests.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

  • Respondents argued that Apex Court should focus on state administrative constructions under Environment Protection Act, not the Apex Court’s concerns. 
  • Respondents argue that mining and quarrying techniques are being removed by Mines Act of 1952, stating they are vital for the country’s affairs and foreign exchange position.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • The Court ruled that limestone quarries classified in category (c) in the Bhargav Committee Report should not be operated. Lessees who obtain a stay order to continue mining operations will be disqualified, and existing leases will be terminated without liability against the State of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Court directed that limestone quarries in categories (2) and (3), except those covered by mining leases Nos. 31, 36, and 37, should be closed down, except for those covered by mining leases Nos. 31, 36, and 37.
  • The Supreme Court ruled mining in Dehradun Valley forests violated Forest Conservation Act, affecting ecological integrity and national benefits, and affecting mine workers' and labourer’s welfare.
  • Mine lessees impacted by court closure would be given preference for mining leases in open regions, while the central government’s eco-task force will recover and reforest damaged zones.
     
 
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