Uttarakhand high court stays new mining rules, issues notice to state govt

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A petition in the high court challenged the new mining rules, saying it provided for allotment of mining leases by recommendatory procedure rather than competitive bidding in disregard of the State Mining Policy of 2017.

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand high court has stayed the new mining rules (Uttarakhand Minor-Minerals (Concession) (Amendment) Rules, 2021) notified by the state government on October 28 last year.

The court has also issued notices to state government, director geology and mining unit (under industries department), district mining officer Nainital and sub-divisional magistrate Nainital. The respondents have been directed to reply to the notices within four weeks.

The division bench of acting chief justice SK Mishra and Justice Alok Kumar Verma gave these directions on Thursday while hearing a petition filed by Nainital-based Satyendra Kumar Tomar in December last year.

The petitioner said: “The notification is an attempt to indulgingly convert state mining policy of competitive bidding into a mutual consent cum recommendation.”

According to the petition, the notification was violative of Article 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India, as it provides for allotment of mining leases by way of recommendatory procedure rather than by way of competitive bidding in total disregard of the State Mining Policy of 2017.

“Despite issuance of another office on November 10, 2021 by the state government, which provides for a proper competitive e-tender/e-bidding even on affected abadi (residential) and agricultural land, mining interests purely on the basis of recommendations are still being handed out arbitrarily to vested interests on private lands”, the petition added.

Suhaas Ratna Joshi, counsel of the petitioner said according to the new rules, “for the purpose of development of land in the hills and plains of Uttarakhand, the ordinary soil that comes out, when the hill are cut, basement is excavated or the levelling of the land is done, can be transferred to the plot of the same private land or to any other plot, then it will not come under the category of mining. And thus, there will be no obligation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in respect of the above category. If the ordinary soil is transported from the plot of private land to any other place for commercial use, then the said person will have to pay the royalty at the rates specified for the time being as mentioned in the First Schedule of the Rules”.


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