Mehta Vs. Union of India & Ors  Insc 203 (13 April 2006)
Sabharwal & C.K. Thakker
1785 IN IA NO. 22 IN WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 4677 OF 1985 Y.K. Sabharwal, CJI.
question for consideration at this stage is whether the mining activity carried
out in Villages Khori Jamalpur and Sirohi in District Faridabad in Haryana are
in violation of the orders passed by this Court on 6th May, 2002. According to the State Government and lease- holders, the
mining activity is carried on in an area measuring 75.05 hectares in Khori Jamalpur
and 50.568 hectares in Sirohi, totaling 125.618 hectares and it is neither in
violation of the orders of this Court nor of law.
other hand, the petitioner and learned Amicus Curiae, submit that the mining activity
is in violation of the order dated 6th May, 2002 and in any case, the mining
activity results in degradation of environment.
On 6th May, 2002 this Court directed the Government
of Haryana to stop all mining activities and pumping of ground water in and
from an area upto 5 kms. from the Delhi-Haryana border in the Haryana side of
the ridge and also in the Aravalli hills. The mining activity in question does
not fall within the limit of 5 kms.
to the petitioner, the limit of 5 kms. is not applicable in respect of mining
in Aravalli hills in Haryana. For deciding this aspect, reference to other
orders is also necessary.
order dated 29th/30th October, 2002 was passed on considering Second Monitoring
Report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) dated 28th October, 2002 in
respect of mining in Aravalli hills. The report mentioned that Members of CEC
on visiting the affected area, namely the forest areas in the Aravalli hills Kote
and Alampur villages, found that mining operations are being carried out in the
area which is forest area where plantation was made under the Aravalli Mining Programme
funded by the Japan Government in early 1990s. In view of this report, order
dated 29th/30th October, 2002 was passed prohibiting and banning all mining
activities in the entire Aravalli hills. Further, in the order dated 31st October, 2002 it was observed that on the
principle of sustainable development, no mining activity can be carried out
without remedial measures taking place. It was further noted in that order that
before any mining activity is permitted, it is necessary that the environment
impact assessment is done and the application for the said purpose is dealt
State of Haryana filed an application (IA No. 839) and sought directions for
modification and clarification of the aforesaid order dated 29th/30th October,
2002 as to whether the order would be applicable only in respect of illegal and
unauthorized mining in reserve and protected forest in Aravalli hills.
On 9th December, 2002, the Court while noting that the
order prohibits and bans all mining activities in the entire Aravalli hills,
directed the Chief Secretaries of Haryana and Rajasthan to file the compliance
On 16th December, 2002 aforesaid application (IA No. 839)
along with other applications were considered and certain directions were
issued. This order is bone of contention between the parties. According to the
State of Haryana and lease-holders, mining in entire Aravalli hills was banned
not on 6th May, 2002 but by order dated 29th/30th October, 2002 which was
modified on 16th December, 2002. According to them, after order dated 16th December, 2002, there is no prohibition in
carrying out mining activity in area in question. The relevant part of the
order dated 16th
December, 2002 reads
mining activity would be permitted in respect of areas where there is a dispute
of applicability of F.C. Act, till such time the dispute is resolved or
approval under the FC Act is accorded, in addition to order already passed in
Writ Petition No. 4677/1985.
the present, no mining will be permitted in the areas for which notification
under Sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900 have been
issued for regulating the breaking up of the land etc. and such lands are or
were recorded as "Forest" in Government records even if the
notification period has expired, unless there is approval under the FC Act.
Attorney General and Solicitor General will assist the Court on the aforesaid
aspects on the next date of hearing.
respect of suggestion 7 and 8, the Union of India will respond on the next date
order dated 29/30th October, prohibiting and banning the mining activity in Aravalli
hills from Haryana to Rajasthan is modified insofar as the State of Rajasthan is concerned to the following
requisite approval/ sanctions in the said State have been obtained under FC Act
and EP Act, and the mining is not prohibited under the applicable Acts or
notifications or orders of the Court, mining can continue and to such mining
the order aforesaid will not apply.
order will be applicable to non- forest land covered for the period prior to
the date of modification of the order dated 29th November, 1999 in the State of Haryana.
variation will not apply to the area in the Alampur District in the State of Haryana." The word 'Alampur District'
is a mistake. It should be 'Alampur Village'.
question is whether order dated 6th May, 2002 bans mining in the entire Aravalli hills irrespective of
limit of 5 kms. Further question is whether after aforesaid order dated 16th December, 2002, can it be said that order dated
29th/30th October, 2002 entirely prohibiting mining activity in Aravalli hills
continues in respect of area in question.
significance and importance of the Aravalli hills has been noticed in M.C.
Mehta v. Union of India & Ors. [(2004) 12 SCC 118]. The main question
considered in that case was whether the mining activity in area upto 5 kms. from
the Delhi-Haryana border on the Haryana side of the ridge and also in the Aravalli
hills causes environmental degradation and what directions are required to be
issued. With a view to monitor the overall restoration efforts in the Aravalli
hills and to provide technical support to the implementing organizations and
also to monitor implementation of recommendations contained in reports referred
to in the judgment, a Monitoring Committee was constituted. The Monitoring
Committee was directed to inspect the mines in question in the said case and
file a report, inter alia, containing suggestions for recommencement of mining
in individual cases. It was further directed that the Aravalli hill range has
to be protected at any cost. In case despite stringent condition, there is an
adverse irreversible effect on the ecology in the Aravalli hill range area, at
a later date, the total stoppage of mining activity in the area may have to be
considered. For similar reasons such step may have to be considered in respect
of mining in Faridabad District as well. Since the direction was in respect of
mining in Gurgaon district, this observation in respect of mining in Faridabad district was made.
have examined the orders dated 6th May, 2002, 29-30th October, 2002, 16th December, 2002, the judgment dated 18th March, 2004 in M.C. Mehta (supra) and affidavits placed on record. It
seems clear that the order dated 6th May, 2002 was confined to the limit of 5 kms. and did not prohibit
mining in the entire Aravalli hills in the State of Haryana. The mining in entire Aravalli
hills was prohibited and banned by order dated 29th/30th October, 2002. This order was, however, modified and clarified on 16th December, 2002. It further seems that the mining activities
in the two villages in question was stopped not pursuant to the order dated 6th May, 2002 but pursuant to the order dated 29-30th October, 2002. The mines in the two villages in
question were also not inspected by Environmental Pollution Control Authority
(EPCA). The present question came up for consideration on filing of large
number of photographs depicting the ongoing mining operations and movement of
large number of trucks in the area in question.
to the stand of State of Haryana, the area totaling 125.618 hectares
in the two villages in question does not fall under any category of
prohibition. It is free from Sections 4 and 5 of Punjab Land Preservation Act
1900; it is not in forest area and there is no plantation with the aid of
foreign funds under Aravalli project, the same having been excluded with the
result that now area stand reduced from 135.70 hectares to 125.618 hectares.
this effect, Deputy Commissioner of Faridabad has filed an affidavit dated 9th February, 2006. We have no reason to doubt the
correctness of the factual statements made in this affidavit. The stand of the
State Government seems to be correct and it does not appear that area in
question falls under any category of prohibition for carrying out mining
activity. In view of above, the carrying out of mining activity in question
does not appear to be in contravention of the order dated 6th May, 2002 or any subsequent order. But
another aspect that remains to be examined is about impact of mining in the
villages in question on environment.
the reports and affidavits including the affidavit filed on behalf of State
Government, it appears that in Sirohi and Khori Jamalpur area, approximately
2000 trucks of metal and masonry stone operate every day but what impact it has
on environment and whether necessary precautions are taken, deserves to be
examined. As held in M.C. Mehta's case the risk of harm to the environment or
to human health is to be decided in public interest, according to
"reasonable person's test". It has been further observed that for
carrying on any mining activity close to the township which has tendency to
degrade environment and is likely to affect air, water and soil and impair the
quality of life of inhabitants of the area, there would be greater
responsibility on the part of the entrepreneur. The regulatory authorities have
to act with utmost care in ensuring compliance of safeguards, norms and
standards to be observed by those conducting mining operations.
mining activity can be permitted to be continued without degrading the
environment or minimizing the adverse effects thereupon by applying requisite
safeguards. While conducting study of environmental problems of Aravalli hills
and preparation of action plan for restoration of environmental quality in Gurgaon
district, the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDI), had
inter alia noted that in Aravalli hills, large number of activities, operations
of stone crushers and deforestation besides other activities are causing
environmental degradation. These mines are usually located in the clusters in
remote mineral rich districts/areas where living standards are lower and
understanding of people towards environmental impact is also poor. In the past,
the mine operators took no note of environmental damage. In fact, they were not
even conscious about it. The attitude of the mining community is to ignore the
environmental concerns. In the majority of the cases, the environmental
concerns are ignored for making quick profits. The small mines (less than 5 hectares)
and the mining of minor minerals which are no doubt small individually but have
damaging characteristics when in clusters, e.g. the mines of granite, marble,
slates, quartzite etc. (falling under minor minerals) are no less damaging than
the others, especially when the processing is taken into consideration. The
mining activities results in disturbance of land surface, altering drainage
pattern and land use, besides the pollution problems, which may lead to the
environmental problems of air, water and noise pollution and solid waste
CMPDI further observed that measures for protecting the environment can be
undertaken without stopping mining operations. This Court, however, came to the
conclusion that before permitting restart of mining in Aravalli range in Gurgaon
district, having regard to the enormous degradation of the environment, the
safer and proper course is to constitute a Monitoring Committee, so that a
report can be obtained. After considering the report, lifting of ban imposed in
terms of order dated 6th
May, 2002 can be
considered on individual mine to mine basis.
present case, however, at this stage, we do not think that merely on the basis
of photographs or plying of large number of trucks per day, a direction deserves
to be made for stopping the mining activity. At the same time, it is necessary
to obtain an independent report to determine the impact of mining activity on
environment, the safeguards, if any, that are taken and whether it is possible
to continue mining by strictly complying with the requisite safeguards to save
the environment from degradation and if not, to consider the issue of
directions prohibiting the mining activity.
the aforesaid circumstances, the Monitoring Committee constituted in terms of
directions in M.C. Mehta's case (supra) is directed to inspect the mining
activity being carried on in 75.05 hectares in village Khori Jamalpur and in
50.568 hectares in village Sirohi in Faridabad district and report the impact,
if any, of continuing mining activity on environment and the safeguards, if
any, adopted to minimize the adverse effect on environment and any other
suggestions relevant to the issue of impact of mining activity on degradation
of environment. The report shall be filed within three months.