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Deepak Kumar etc. Vs. State of Haryana and Others etc.

[Civil Appellate Jurisdiction I.A. Nos.12-13 Of 2011 In Special Leave Petition (C) No. 19628-19629 Of 2009]

[SLP(C) Nos. 729-731/2011, 21833/2009, 12498- 499/2010, SLP (C) Cc. 16157/2011 & Cc 18235/2011]

O R D E R

K. S. Radhakrishnan, J.

I.A. Nos. 12-13 of 2011 are allowed. SLP (C) Nos.12498-12499 of 2010 be detagged and be listed after two weeks.

1. The Department of Mines and Geology, Government of Haryana issued an auction notice dated 3.6.2011 proposing to auction the extraction of minor mineral boulder, gravel and sand quarries of an area not exceeding 4.5 hectares in each case in the District of Panchkula, auction notices dated 8.8.2011 in the District of Panchkula, Ambala and Yamuna Nagar exceeding 5 hectares and above, quarrying minor mineral, road metal and masonary stone mines in the District of Bhiwani, stone, sand mines in the District of Mohindergarh, slate stone mines in the District of Rewari, and also in the Districts of Kurukshetra, Karnal, Faridabad and Palwal, with certain restrictions for quarrying in the river beds of Yamuna, Tangri, Markanda, Ghaggar, Krishnavati River basin, Dohan River basin etc. The validity of those auction notices is under challenge before us, apart from the complaint of illegal mining going on in the State of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

2. When the matter came up for hearing on 25.11.2011, we passed an order directing the CEC to make a local inspection with intimation to MoEF, State of U.P., Rajasthan and Haryana with regard to the alleged illegal mining going on in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and also with regard to the areas identified for mining in the State of Haryana and submit a report. We also directed the CEC to examine whether there has been an attempt to flout EIA Notification dated 14.9.2006 by breaking the homogeneous area into pieces of less than 5 hectares. CEC was also directed to examine whether the activities going on in that area have any adverse environmental impact.

3. CEC, in response to our order, submitted a detailed report on 4.1.2012. However, the report is silent with regard to the disturbing trend of serious illegal and unrestricted upstream, in-stream and flood plain sand mining activities and the prevailing degree of degradation of the sites and the environment, especially on the river beds mentioned earlier. Report of CEC however states that the auction notice also refer to mining leases of less than 5 hectares and hence no environmental clearance need be obtained as per the MoEF notification dated 14.9.2006. No light is also thrown on the question whether there has been, in fact, an attempt to flout the notification dated 14.9.2006 by breaking the homogeneous area into pieces of less than 5 hectares and the possible environmental or ecological impact on quarrying of minor minerals.

4. Mr. Patwalia, learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioners, submitted that CEC report is silent about those aspects and also whether 1 km. distance has been 4maintained between the mining blocks of less than 5 hectares. Learned counsel also submitted that mining areas earmarked are at the foothills of fragile Himalayan ranges known as Shivalik hills, which are spread over the Districts of Panchkula, Ambala and Yamuna Nagar and the illegal and excessive mining has caused serious environmental degradation and ecological impact, and no Environmental Impact Assessment has ever taken place in areas earmarked for mining especially on the river beds.

5. Shri Gopal Subramaniam, learned senior counsel appearing for the State of Haryana, submitted that the State has taken adequate and effective precautions to maintain 1 km. separation between mining blocks of less than 5 hectares each and that the auction notice dated 3.6.2011 itself has imposed strict restrictions on quarrying in the river beds so also the auction notice dated 8.8.2011. Further, it was pointed out that the notification dated 14.9.2006 would not apply for quarrying minor minerals from areas of less than 5 hectares and therefore, no environmental impact assessment needs to be undertaken either at the instance of the State Government or the Project Proponent.

6. Shri Mohan Jain, learned Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the MoEF submitted that the grant or allotment of mining licence/lease of smaller plots of less than five hectares should not be encouraged from the environmental point of view and that the applicability of EIA notification of 2006, has to be seen in its letter and spirit so as to ensure environmental safeguards in place and implemented for sustainable mining. Learned counsel also assured, if environmental clearance is sought for covering a mining area of less than five hectares, the same shall be immediately attended to and necessary clearance would be granted in accordance with law.

7. We have no materials before us to come to the conclusion that the removal of minor mineral boulder, gravel, sand quarries etc. covered by the auction notices dated 3.6.2011 and 8.8.2011, in the places notified therein and also in the river beds of Yamuna, Ghaggar, Tangri, Markanda, Krishnavati river basin, Dohan river basin etc. would not cause environmental degradation or threat to the biodiversity, destroy riverine vegetation, cause erosion, pollute water sources etc. Sand mining on either side of the rivers, upstream and in-stream, is one of the causes for environmental degradation and also a threat to the biodiversity.

Over the years, India's rivers and Riparian ecology have been badly affected by the alarming rate of unrestricted sand mining which damage the ecosystem of rivers and the safety of bridges, weakening of river beds, destruction of natural habitats of organisms living on the river beds, affects fish breeding and migration, spells disaster for the conservation of many bird species, increases saline water in the rivers etc. Extraction of alluvial material from within or near a streambed has a direct impact on the stream's physical habitat characteristics.

These characteristics include bed elevation, substrate composition and stability, in-stream roughness elements, depth, velocity, turbidity, sediment transport, stream discharge and temperature. Altering these habitat characteristics can have deleterious impacts on both in-stream biota and the associated riparian habitat. The demand for sand continues to increase day by day as building and construction of new infrastructures and expansion of existing ones is continuous 7thereby placing immense pressure on the supply of the sand resource and hence mining activities are going on legally and illegally without any restrictions. Lack of proper planning and sand management cause disturbance of marine ecosystem and also upset the ability of natural marine processes to replenish the sand.

8. We are expressing our deep concern since we are faced with a situation where the auction notices dated 3.6.2011 and 8.8.2011 have permitted quarrying mining and removal of sand from in-stream and upstream of several rivers, which may have serious environmental impact on ephemeral, seasonal and perennial rivers and river beds and sand extraction may have an adverse effect on bio-diversity as well.

Further it may also lead to bed degradation and sedimentation having a negative effect on the aquatic life. Rivers mentioned in the auction notices are on the foothills of the fragile Shivalik hills. Shivalik hills are the source of rivers like Ghaggar, Tangri, Markanda etc. River Ghaggar is a seasonal river which rises up in the outer Himalayas between Yamuna and Satluj and enters Haryana near Pinjore, District Panchkula, which passes through Ambala and Hissar and reaches Bikaner in Rajasthan. River Markanda is also a seasonal river like Ghaggar, which also originates from the lower Shivalik hills and enters Haryana near Ambala. During monsoon, this stream swells up into a raging torrent, notorious for its devastating power, as also, river Yamuna.

9. We find that it is without conducting any study on the possible environmental impact on/in the river beds and else- where the auction notices have been issued. We are of the considered view that when we are faced with a situation where extraction of alluvial material within or near a river bed has an impact on the rivers physical habitat characteristics, like river stability, flood risk, environmental degradation, loss of habitat, decline in biodiversity, it is not an answer to say that the extraction is in blocks of less than 5 hectares, separated by 1 kilometre, because their collective impact may be significant, hence the necessity of a proper environmental assessment plan. Possibly this may be the reason that in the affidavit filed by the MoEF on 23.11.2011 along with the annexure-2 report, the following stand has been taken:

"The Ministry is of the opinion that where the mining area is homogenous, physically proximate end on identifiable piece of land of 5 ha or more, it should not be broken into smaller sizes to circumvent the EIA Notification, 2006 as the EIA Notification, 2006 is not applicable to the mining projects having lease area of less than 5 ha. The Report of Committee on Minor Minerals, under the Chairmanship of the Secretary (E & F) with representatives of various state Governments as members including the State of Haryana and Rajasthan recommended a minimum lease size of 5 ha for minor minerals for undertaking scientific mining for the purpose of integrating and addressing environmental concerns.

Only in cases of isolated discontinued mineral deposits in less than 5 ha, such mining leases may be considered keeping in view the mineral conservation."Situations referred to earlier prevail not only in the State of Haryana but also in the neighbouring and other States of the country as well and those issues had come up for serious deliberations before the Government of India, on various occasions.

10. Government of India was receiving various reports regarding the adverse impacts on riverbeds and groundwater due to quarrying/mining of minerals. The Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act 1957 empowers the State Governments to make rules in respect of minor 10minerals. It was noticed that proposals for mining of major minerals typically undergo environment impact assessment and environmental clearance procedure, but due attention has not been given to environmental aspects of mining of minor minerals.

Environmental Impact Assessment Notification of 1994 did not apply to the mining of minor minerals, noticing that minor minerals were brought under the ambit of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 and as per the said notification mining of minerals with a lease area of 5 hectares and above require prior environmental clearance. MoEF's attention was drawn to several instances across the country regarding damage to lakes, riverbeds and groundwater leading to drying up of water beds and causing water scarcity on account of quarry/mining leases and mineral concessions granted under the Mineral Concession Rules framed by the State Governments under Section 15 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957.

MoEF noticed that less attention was given on environmental aspects of mining of minor minerals since the area was small, but it was noticed that the collective impact in a particular area over a period of time might be significant. Taking note of those aspects, MoEF constituted a Core Group under the Chairmanship of the Secretary (E & F) to look into the environmental aspects associated with mining of minor minerals, vide its order dated 24.03.2009. The terms of reference to the Group were as under:

i. To consider the environmental aspects of mining of minor minerals (quarrying as well as river beds mining) for their integration into the mining process.

ii. Specific safeguard measures required to minimize the likely adverse impacts of mining on environment with specific reference to impact on water bodies as well as groundwater so as to ensure sustainable mining.

iii. To evolve model guidelines so as to address mining as well as environmental concerns in a balanced manner for their adoption and implementation by all the mineral producing States. The Group held its first meeting on 7.7.2009 and discussed the impact that may be caused by quarrying/mining of minor minerals on riverbeds and ground waters.

It was noticed that individual mines of minor minerals being small in size may have insignificant impact, however, their collective impacts, taking into consideration various mines on a regional scale, is significantly adverse. It was, therefore, felt 12necessary to consider various aspects since appropriate guidelines have to be issued on the basis of the report of the Committee. The issues which were brought up for consideration were;

i. the need to re-look the definition of minor mineral,

ii. minimum size of lease for adopting eco friendly scientific mining practices,

iii. period of lease,

iv. cluster of mine approach for addressing and implementing EMP in case of small mines,

v. depth of mining to minimize adverse impact on hydrological regime,

vi. requirement of mine plan for minor minerals, similar to major minerals, and

vii. reclamation of mined out area, post mine land use, progressive mine closure plan etc.

11. Comments and inputs from various States and Experts were also invited so as to prepare a report for consideration of the MoEF. Based on the discussion held and subsequent inputs received, a draft report was prepared and circulated to all members for their further inputs. Report was further discussed on 29.1.2010 for its finalization. The observations/comments made during the meeting were incorporated in the report and it was again circulated to all members for their consideration.

The report so circulated was ultimately finalized. The decision taken by the MoEF affects generally the mining of minor minerals including the riverbed mining throughout the country. For an easy reference, we may extract the issues and recommendations made by the MoEF, which are as follows:

"4.0 ISSUES AND RECOMMENDATIONS 4.1 Definition of Minor Mineral: The term minor mineral is defined in clause (e) of Section 3 of MMDR Act, 1957 as "minor mineral means building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand other than sand used for prescribed purposes and any other material which the Central Government may, by Notification in the Gazette of India declare to be a minor mineral". The term 'ordinary sand' used in clause (e) of Section 3 of the MMDR Act, 1957 has been further clarified in rule 70 of the MCR, 1960 as "sand shall not be treated as minor mineral when used for any of the following purposes namely:

i. purposes of refractory and manufacture of ceramic,

ii. metallurgical purposes,

iii. optical purposes,

iv. purposes of stowing in coal mines,

v. for manufacture of silvicrete cement,

vi. manufacture of sodium silicate and

vii. manufacture of pottery and glass.

Additionally, the Central Government has declared the following minerals as minor minerals:

i. boulder,

ii. shingle,

iii. chalcedony pebbles used for ball mill purposes only,

iv. limeshell, kankar and limestone used in kilns for manufacture of lime used as building material,

v. murrum,

vi. brick-earth,

vii. fuller's earth,

viii. bentonite,

ix. road metal,

x. reh-matti,

xi. slate and shale when used for building material,

xii. marble,

xiii. stone used for making household utensils,

xiv. quartzite and sandstone when used for purposes of building or for making road metal and household utensils,

xv. saltpeter and

xvi. ordinary earth (used or filling or levelling purposes in construction or embankments, roads, railways building).

It may thus be observed that minerals have been classified into major and minor minerals based on their end use rather than level of production, level of mechanization, export and import etc. There do exist some minor mineral mines of silica sand and limestone where the scale of mechanization and level of production is much higher than those of industrial mineral mines. Further, in terms of the economic cost and revenue, it has been estimated that the total value of minor minerals constitutes about 10% of the total value of mineral production whereas the value of non metallic minerals comprises only 3%.

It is, therefore, evident that the operation of mines of minor minerals need to be subject to some regulatory parameters as that of mines of major minerals. Further, unlike India there does not exist any such system based on end usage in other countries for classifying minerals into major and minor categories. Thus, there is a need to re-look at the definition of "minor" minerals per se. It is, therefore, recommended that Ministry of Mines along with Indian Bureau of Mines, in consultation with the State Governments may re-examine the classification of minerals into major and minor categories so that the regulatory aspects and environment mitigation measures are appropriately integrated for ensuring sustainable and scientific mining with least impacts on environment. 4.2 Size of the Mine Lease:

Area for grant of mine lease varies from State to State. Maximum area which can be held under one or more mine lease is 2590 ha or 25.90 sq.miles in Jammu & Kashmir. Rajasthan prescribed a minimum limit of 1 ha for a lease. Maximum area prescribed for permit is 50x50 m. In most of the States area of permit is not specified in the rules. It has recently been observed by Punjab and Haryana High Court in its order dated 15.5.2009 that State Government are apparently granting short term permits by dividing the mining area into small zones in effect avoids environmental norms. There is, thus a need to bring uniformity in the extent of area to be granted for mine lease so as to ensure that eco friendly scientific mining practices can be adopted.

It is recommended that the minimum size of mine lease should be 5 ha. Further, preparation of comprehensive mine plan for contiguous stretches of mineral deposits by the respective State Governments may also be encouraged. This may suitably be incorporated in the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 by Ministry of Mines.4.3 Period of Mine Lease: The period of lease varies from State to State depending on type of concessions, minerals and its end use. The minimum lease period is one year and maximum 30 years. Minerals like granite where huge investments are required, a period of 20 years is generally given with the provisions of renewal. Permits are generally granting for short periods which vary from one month to a maximum one year. In States like Haryana, minor mineral leases are auctioned for a particular time period.

Mining is considered to be capital intensive industry and considerable time is lost for developing the mine before it attains the status of fully developed mine. If the tenure of the mine lease is short, it would encourage the lessee to concentrate more on rapid exploitation of mineral without really undertaking adequate measures for reclamation and rehabilitation of mined out area, posing thereby a serious threat to the environment and health of the workers and public at large. There is thus, a need to bring uniformity in the period of lease.

It is recommended that a minimum period of mine lease should be 5 years, so that eco friendly scientific and sustainable mining practices are adopted. However, under exceptional circumstances arising due to judicial interventions, short term mining leases / contracts could be granted to the State Agencies to meet the situation arising there from.4.4 Cluster of Mine Approach for Small Sized Mines: Considering the nature of occurrence of minor mineral, economic condition of the lessee and the likely difficulties to be faced by Regulatory Authorities in monitoring the environmental impacts and implementation of necessary mitigation measures, it may be desirable to adopt cluster approach in case of smaller mine leases being operated presently.

Further, these clusters need be provided with processing/crusher zones for forward integration and minimizing excessive pressure on road infrastructure. The respective State Governments / Mine Owners Associations may facilitate implementation of Environment Management Plans in such cluster of mines. 4.5 Requirement of Mine Plan for Minor Minerals: At present, most of the State Governments have not made it mandatory for preparation of mining plan in respect of minor minerals. In some States like Rajasthan, eco friendly mining plans are prepared, which are approved by the State Mining Department. The eco friendly mining plans so prepared, though conceptually welcome, are observed to be deficient and need to be made comprehensive in a manner as is being done for major minerals.

Besides, the aspects of reclamation and rehabilitation of mined out areas, progressive mine closure plan, as in vogue for major minerals could be introduced for minor minerals as well. It is recommended that provision for preparation and approval of mine plan, as in the case of major minerals may appropriately be provided in the Rules governing the mining of minor minerals by the respective State Governments. These should specifically include the provision for reclamation and rehabilitation of mined out area, progressive mine closure plan and post mine land use. 184.6 Creation of Separate Corpus for Reclamation / Rehabilitation of Mines of Minor Minerals: Mining of minor minerals, in our country, is by and large unorganized sector and is practiced in haphazard and unscientific manner. At times, the size of the leasehold is also too small to address the issue of reclamation and rehabilitation of mined outs areas. It may, therefore, be desirable that before the concept of mine closure plan for minor minerals is adopted, the existing abandoned mines may be reclaimed and rehabilitated with the involvement of the State Government. There is thus, a need to create a separate corpus, which may be utilized for reclamation and rehabilitation of mined out areas.

The respective State Governments may work out a suitable mechanism for creation of such corpus on the 'polluter pays' principle. An organizational structure may also need to be created for undertaking and monitoring these activities.4.7 Depth of Mining: Mining of minerals, whether major or minor have a direct bearing on the hydrological regime of the area. Besides, affecting the availability of water as a resource, it also affects the quality of water through direct run of going into the surface water bodies and infiltration / leaching into groundwater. Further, groundwater withdrawal, dewatering of water from mine pit and diversion of surface water may cause surface and sub surface hydrologic systems to dry up.

An ideal situation would require that quarrying should be restricted to unsaturated zone only above the phreatic water table and should not intersect the groundwater table at 19any point of time. However, from the point of view of mineral conservation, it may not be desirable to impose blanket ban on mining operation below groundwater table. It is, therefore, recommended that detailed hydro-geological report should be prepared in respect of any mining operation for minor minerals to be undertaken below groundwater table. Based on the findings of the study so undertaken and the comments / recommendations of Central Ground Water Authority / State Ground Water Board, a decision regarding restriction on depth of mining for any area should be taken on case to case basis.4.8 Uniform Minor Mineral Concession Rules:

The economic value of the minor minerals excavated in the country is estimated to contribute to about 9% of the total value of the minerals whereas the non metallic minerals contribute to about 2.8%. Keeping in view the large extent of mining of minor minerals and its significant potential to adversely affect the environment, it is recommended that Model Mineral Concession rules may be framed for minor minerals as well and the minor minerals may be subjected to a simpler regulatory regime, which is, however, similar to major minerals regime. 4.9 River Bed Mining:4.9.1 Environment damage being caused by unregulated river bed mining of sand, bazari and boulders is attracting considerable attention including in the courts.

The following 20 recommendations are therefore made for the river bed mining. (a)In the case of mining leases for riverbed sand mining, specific river stretches should be identified and mining permits/lease should be granted stretch wise, so that the requisite safeguard measures are duly implemented and are effectively monitored by the respective Regulatory Authorities. (b)The depth of mining may be restricted to 3m/water level, whichever is less. (c) For carrying out mining in proximity to any bridge and/or embankment, appropriate safety zone should be worked out on case to case basis, taking into account the structural parameters, locational aspects, flow rate etc. and no mining should be carried out in the safety zone so worked out. 5.0 Conclusion: Mining of minor minerals, though individually, because of smaller size of mine leases is perceived to have lesser impact as compared to mining of major minerals. 21 However, the activity as a whole is seen to have significant adverse impacts on environment.

It is, therefore, necessary that the mining of minor minerals is subjected to simpler but strict regulatory regime and carried out only under an approved framework of mining plan, which should provide for reclamation and rehabilitation of the mined out areas. Further, while granting mining leases by the respective State Governments "location of any eco-fragile zone(s) within the impact zone of the proposed mining area, the linked Rules/Notifications governing such zones and the judicial pronouncements, if any, need be duly noted.

The Union Ministry of Mines along with Indian Bureau of Mines and respective State Governments should therefore make necessary provisions in this regard under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 and adopt model guidelines to be followed by all States. " (emphasis supplied)The report clearly indicates that operation of mines of minor minerals needs to be subjected to strict regulatory parameters as that of mines of major minerals. It was also felt necessary to have a re-look to the definition of "minor" minerals per se. The necessity of the preparation of "comprehensive mines plan" for contiguous stretches of mineral deposits by the respective State Governments may also be encouraged and the same be suitably incorporated in the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 by the Ministry of Mines.

Further, it was also recommended that States, Union 22Territories would see that mining of minor minerals is subjected to simpler but strict regulatory regime and carried out only under an approved framework of mining plan, which should provide for reclamation and rehabilitation of mined out areas. Mining Plan should take note of the level of production, level of mechanisation, type of machinery used in the mining of minor minerals, quantity of diesel consumption, number of trees uprooted, export and import of mining minerals, environmental impact, restoration of flora and host of other matters referred to in 2010 rules.

A proper framework has also to be evolved on cluster of mining of minor mineral for which there must be a Regional Environmental Management Plan. Another important decision taken was that while granting of mining leases by the respective State Governments, location of any eco-fragile zone(s) within the impact zone of the proposed mining area, the linked Rules/Notifications governing such zones and the judicial pronouncements, if any, need to be duly noted.

12. The Minister for (E & F) wrote DO letter dated 1st June, 2010 to all the Chief Ministers of the States to examine the report and to issue necessary instructions for incorporating 23the recommendations made in the report in the Mineral Concession Rules for mining of minor minerals under Section 15 of Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Following are the key recommendations re-iterated in the letter:

a. "Minimum size of mine lease should be 5 ha.

b. Minimum period of mine lease should be 5 years.

c. A cluster approach to mines should be taken in case of smaller mines leases operating currently.

d. Mine plans should be made mandatory for minor minerals as well.

e. A separate corpus should be created for reclamation and rehabilitation of mined out areas.

f. Hydro-geological reports should be prepared for mining proposed below groundwater table.

g. For river bed mining, leases should be granted stretch wise, depth may be restricted to 3m/water level, whichever is less, and safety zones should be worked out.

h. The present classification of minerals into major and minor categories should be re-examined by the Ministry of Mines in consultation with the States."

13. The Ministry of Mines, Govt. of India sent a communication No.296/7/2000/MRC dated 16.05.2011 called "Environmental aspects of quarrying and of minor minerals - Evolving of Model Guidelines" along with a draft model guidelines calling for inputs before 30. 06. 2011. Draft rules called Minor Minerals Conservation and Development 24Rules, 2010 were also put on the website. Further, it may be noted Section 15(1A)(i) of the Act specifies the manner in which rehabilitation of flora and other vegetation, such as trees, shrubs and the like destroyed by reasons of any quarrying or mining operations shall be made in the same area or in any other area once selected by the State Government, whether by way of reimbursement of the cost of rehabilitation or otherwise by the persons holding the quarrying or mining lease.

14. We are of the view that all State Governments / Union Territories have to give due weight to the above mentioned recommendations of the MoEF which are made in consultation with all the State Governments and Union Territories. Model Rules of 2010 issued by the Ministry of Mines are very vital from the environmental, ecological and bio-diversity point of view and therefore the State Governments have to frame proper rules in accordance with the recommendations, under Section 15 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

15. Quarrying of river sand, it is true, is an important economic activity in the country with river sand forming a crucial raw material for the infrastructural development and for the construction industry but excessive in-stream sand and gravel mining causes the degradation of rivers. In-stream mining lowers the stream bottom of rivers which may lead to bank erosion. Depletion of sand in the streambed and along coastal areas causes the deepening of rivers which may result in destruction of aquatic and riparian habitats as well. Extraction of alluvial material as already mentioned from within or near a streambed has a direct impact on the stream's physical habitat characteristics.

16. We are of the considered view that it is highly necessary to have an effective framework of mining plan which will take care of all environmental issues and also evolve a long term rational and sustainable use of natural resource base and also the bio-assessment protocol. Sand mining, it may be noted, may have an adverse effect on bio-diversity as loss of habitat caused by sand mining will effect various species, flora and fauna and it may also destabilize the soil structure of river banks and often leaves isolated islands. We find that, taking note of those technical, scientific and environmental matters, MoEF, Government of India, issued various recommendations in March 2010 followed by the Model Rules, 2010 framed by the Ministry of Mines which have to be given effect to, inculcating the spirit of Article 48A, Article 51A(g) read with Article 21 of the Constitution.

17. The State of Haryana and various other States have not so far implemented the above recommendations of the MoEF or the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Mines before issuing auction notices granting short term permits by way of auction of minor mineral boulders, gravel, sand etc., in the river beds and elsewhere of less than 5 hectares. We, therefore, direct to all the States, Union Territories, MoEF and the Ministry of Mines to give effect to the recommendations made by MoEF in its report of March 2010 and the model guidelines framed by the Ministry of Mines, within a period of six months from today and submit their compliance reports.

18. Central Government also should take steps to bring into force the Minor Minerals Conservation and Development Rules 2010 at the earliest. State Governments and UTs also should take immediate steps to frame necessary rules under Section 15 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 taking into consideration the recommendations of MoEF in its Report of March 2010 and model guidelines framed by the Ministry of Mines, Govt. of India. Communicate the copy of this order to the MoEF, Secretary, Ministry of Mines, New Delhi, Ministry of Water Resources, Central Government Water Authority, the Chief Secretaries of the respective States and Union Territories, who would circulate this order to the concerned Departments.

19. We, in the meanwhile, order that leases of minor mineral including their renewal for an area of less than five hectares be granted by the States/Union Territories only after getting environmental clearance from the MoEF.

Ordered accordingly.

.......................................J. (K.S. Radhakrishnan)

.......................................J. (Chandramauli Kr. Prasad)

New Delhi

February 27, 2012


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