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Supreme Court Asks Govt to Frame New National Mineral Policy by Dec 31

The court said, "It does appear that there is no effective check on mining operations nor is there any effective mining policy".

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:August 3, 2017, 10:59 AM IST
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Supreme Court Asks Govt to Frame New National Mineral Policy by Dec 31
File photo of the Supreme Court of India. (Photo: Reuters)
New Delhi: Regretting the inadequacy of the current regime, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Central government to frame a new national mineral policy by December 31.

A bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur referred to "indiscriminate mining" in states such as Odisha, Karnataka and Goa, as it emphasised revisiting the 2008 policy.

"It does appear that there is no effective check on mining operations nor is there any effective mining policy," the court said.

The bench added "the National Mineral Policy, 2008 seems to be only on paper and is not being enforced perhaps due to the involvement of very powerful vested interests or a failure of nerve."

It pointed out that almost a decade has elapsed since the 2008 policy, during which the country also witnessed "the advent of rapacious mining" in several parts of the country.

"Therefore, it is high time that the Union of India revisits the National Mineral Policy, 2008 and announces a fresh and more effective, meaningful and implementable policy within the next few months and in any event before 31st December, 2017," directed the bench.

The directive came as the top court heard a PIL by NGO Common Cause against illegal mining in Odisha.

Arguing for the petition, advocate Prashant Bhushan had underscored the principles of 'intergenerational equity', as he pressed for putting limits on mining operations so that the future generations are not deprived of the natural resources and the environment is also protected.

The bench responded that it was not for the court to put limits on mining operations. "Nevertheless, this is an aspect that needs serious consideration by the policy and decision makers in our country in the governance structure," said the top court as it set a deadline for the Centre to come up with a new policy.

The bench also ordered for setting up an Expert Committee, to be headed by a former SC judge, to identify the lapses and recommend corrective measures.

"Undoubtedly, there have been very serious lapses that have enabled large scale mining activities to be carried out without forest clearance or environment clearance and eventually the persons responsible for this will need to be booked but as mentioned above, the violation of the laws and policy need to be prevented in other parts of the country," it said.

The court added that the Expert Committee will identify the lapses that have occurred over the years enabling rampant illegal or unlawful mining in Odisha and measures to prevent this from happening in other parts of the country.

About illegal mining in Odisha, the bench ordered that about 34 mining lease companies will have to cough up 100 per cent of the price of illegally mined iron ore and manganese. It rejected a proposal by the Central Empowered Committee to recover 70 per cent of such cost and said all miners, which did not have environment or forest clearance, will pay 100 per cent as damages under the provision of the MMDR Act.
| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
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