Will not allow any damage to eco-sensitive zone via mining: Supreme Court

Published: 30 September, 2020 19:18 IST | IANS | Mumbai

A bench, headed by the Chief Justice and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, said as far as exploitation of natural resources is concerned, the court cannot rely on either the Centre or the state government

Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde. Pic/Twitter IANS
Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde. Pic/Twitter IANS

Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Wednesday said the Supreme Court will not allow any damage to the eco-sensitive zone and if an area falls in an eco-sensitive zone, then neither the Centre nor state will have the right to mine it.

A bench, headed by the Chief Justice and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, said as far as exploitation of natural resources is concerned, the court cannot rely on either the Centre or the state government.

"When it comes to nature, there is always an attempt to make money out of it. If the eco-sensitive zone is hampered, we will not allow it," said Chief Justice Bobde as the bench heard a suit filed by the Jharkhand government challenging the Centre's decision to auction coal blocks in the state for commercial mining.

The bench noted that prima facie, the Centre is entitled to auction coal blocks in the state, as it is not a scheduled area, and asked the Centre to file an affidavit within a week clarifying whether in the area under question is eco-sensitive or not.

The Chief Justice noted that Jharkhand is claiming immunity from the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR Act). "Politics and law are connected, no doubt about it, but we don't consider it a part of law," he said.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the state government, submitted that 53 per cent of Jharkhand is forest areas and the state is challenging the auction, which, he insisted, is "contrary to public interest".

As the Chief Justice asked if he was saying that mining lease cannot be granted in an eco-sensitive zone, Singhvi said it can be done in a small area far away from such a zone. The Chief Justice then sought evidence be placed on record that the area under coal blocks is an eco-sensitive zone.

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