LANDMARK VERDICT: 100% PENALTY ON ILLEGAL MINING
In a major victory for Common Cause, the Supreme Court on Aug 2, 2017, imposed a hundred percent penalty on mining companies indulging in illegal mining on account of lack of forest and environment clearances, mining outside lease/permitted area and for mining in excess of what has been allowed. This judgment was delivered in a petition filed in 2014 by Common Cause to curb the rampant illegal mining in Odisha. Following the filing of our petition, the operation of 26 illegal mines was stayed. The court in 2016 had directed the states to consider applications of miners filed before January 2015 or 12 months before the expiry of the lease. It had also held that mining leases will not lapse automatically unless the state governments hear the companies and pass orders to that effect. The court had earlier appointed a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to look into illegal activities and to ascertain the factual position of mining lessees that obtained approval under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and secured environment clearances in Odisha.
In its judgment, the bench headed by Justice Lokur directed that an Expert Committee be constituted and presided over by a retired judge for identifying the lapses that have occurred over the years that have enabled rampant illegal and unlawful mining in Odisha and to recommend preventive measures not only to the State of Odisha but generally to all other States where mining activities are proceeding on a large scale. The Union of India was directed to have a fresh look at the National Mineral Policy, 2008 which is almost a decade old, particularly with regard to conservation and mineral development and that the exercise should be completed by December 31, 2017. For more details of the petition and judgment visit: http://commoncause.in/writ_details.php?id=116
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