NGT orders stoppage of rat-hole mining in Meghalaya

NGT orders stoppage of rat-hole mining in Meghalaya

The Principle Bench of National Green Tribunal has admitted an application (Original Application No. 73/2014 and  M.A. No. 174/2014) by All Dimasa Students Union and Dima Hasao Dist. Committee vs. State of Meghalaya & Ors. on the issue of illegal rat-hole mining in the State and has directed ‘the Chief  Secretary,  Government  of  Meghalaya  and  the  Director General  of  Police,  State  of  Meghalaya  to  ensure  that  rat-hole mining/illegal mining is stopped forthwith thought-out the State of Meghalaya and any illegal transport of coal shall not take place until  further  orders  passed  by  this  Tribunal.  The Director General of Police, State of Meghalaya is also directed to report to this Tribunal about the compliance of the order by the next date of hearing.’

Pushp Jain

EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)

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Rat Hole Mining Stoppage in Meghalaya Order 1742014MApp 17 Apr 2014

Mining only if compatible with protection of environment - NGT

Mining only if compatible with protection of environment

The Bhopal bench of the National Green Tribunal in a judgement recently in Original Application No. 16/2013 (CZ) observed ‘mining is required to be taken up only if it is compatible with the objective of  protecting  the  environment’. The Bench had instituted a Suo motu case on the basis of a news item in the Bhopal edition of daily newspaper ‘Times of India’ dated  10th April,  2013  published  on  the  front  page  under  the  caption "Dolomite mining a threat to Tiger corridor in Kanha - Foresters want ban on mining in Mandla District".

It has directed constitution of a high level committee so that ‘Necessary  penal  action  shall  be  initiated  against  those  ML (Mining Lease)  holders who  were  found  violating  the  provisions  of  Water  (Prevention  & Control  of  Pollution)  Act,  1974  and  Air  (Prevention  &  Control  of Pollution) Act, 1981  as well as the ML conditions and Forest Act’, and examine  whether  the  mines  require ‘cumulative  Environment  Impact  Assessment  (EIA)  study  and  then only  granting  EC  under  cluster  approach  as  envisaged  in  EIA Notification,  2006’.

Read more: Mining only if compatible with protection of environment - NGT

Forest Clearance for Parsa East and Kante Basan Coal Blocks Set Aside

In a significant judgement, National Green Tribunal has set aside the order recommending Forest Clearance (FC) dated 23 June 2011 by the than Union Mister of Environment and Forests, and consequent final approval order issued on 28 March 2012 by the State of Chhattisgarh under section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 for diversion of 1898.328 hectares of forest land at Parsa East and Kante-Basan captive coal blocks situated in Hasdeo-Arand coal fields in Hasdeo-Arand forest in South Sarguja Forest Division, District Sarguja, Chhattisgarh in favour of Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd.

It may be recollected that Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) had declined to recommend the proposal three times and the Union Minster had over ruled FAC and recommended Forest Clearance (FC). NGT feels that there were still more facts and figures which should have been covered by FAC and the Minister had no reason to overrule FAC. It said, ‘it is evident that the FAC did not examine all the relevant facts and circumstances while rendering its advice and to cap it the Minister acted arbitrarily and rejected the FACs advice for the reasons having no basis either in any authoritative study or experience in the relevant fields. In short the reasons adduced by the Minister fail to outweigh the advice rendered by the FAC.’

The proposal will now have to go again for fresh consideration by FAC and forest clearance process.

Click Here to read the judgment

Pushp Jain

EIA Resource and Response Centre (ERC)

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National Green Tribunal suspends approval granted to Thermal Power Plant in Vizianagram, Andhra Pradesh

National Green Tribunal suspends approval granted to Thermal Power Plant in Vizianagram, Andhra Pradesh

Concludes that the process followed by MoEF was hasty, arbitrary, miserable and a thorough failure

                                                                                                                                                

In a significant decision the Southern Zone of the National Green Tribunal on 13-12-2013 suspended the environmental clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest  for setting up the 4x660 MW  Super Critical Coal based thermal power plant of Alfa Infra Prop Ltd in Komarada in Vizianagaram District.  The Judgment was delivered by the National Green Tribunal  while deciding an Appeal filed by Andhra Pradesh based NGO Samata and Forum for Sustainable Development. The NGT comprising of  Justice M. Chockalingam and Prof R. Nagendran concluded that there was a ‘thorough failure’  in the  manner in which the appraisal was carried out by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)  of the Ministry of Environment and Forest which violated the Precautionary Principle as well as the Principles of Sustainable Development.  The NGT concluded that the Appraisal was conducted in a ‘haste’ was ‘arbitrary’ and ‘cursory’. The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) which approved the project   was headed by  retired IAS officer V.P Raja with Prof C.R Babu as Vice Chairperson and other members.

Read more: National Green Tribunal suspends approval granted to Thermal Power Plant in Vizianagram, Andhra...

MoEF Officials Fined

MoEF Officials Fined 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed fine of rupees 25 thousand on officials, including a Joint Secretary, of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). This happened due to absence of counsel for MoEF in four cases which NGT heard two days back on 27 November 2013.

In fact, these  cases are  part  heard  matters.   There was similar problem, when these cases   came  up  for  hearing  on  11 November  2013. On that occasion, the NGT ordered “Mr.  M.S.  Negi,  IGF  (FC)  is  present  on  behalf  of Ministry of Environment and Forests (for short ‘MoEF’) and he  informs  that  they  are  in  the  process  of  engaging another  Counsel. We  must  notice  that  it  is  a  part-heard matter  before  a  specially  constituted  Bench  and  has  to  be  adjourned because of absence of the Counsel on behalf of the  MoEF.   We do  hope  that  MoEF  will  take  appropriate steps forthwith  as  the  matters  where  MoEF  is  a  party  are being  adjourned  for  last  two  weeks.   Now, we are not prepared to adjourn matters any further. If the MoEF fails to take  appropriate  decisions  and  ensure  presence  of Counsel  to  argue  the  matter,  particularly  in  part-heard matters,  we  would  be  compelled  to  pass  Orders  against the  MoEF  as  may  be  appropriate  in  accordance  with  law including  the  Orders  to  secure  the  presence  of  the  higher Officers  of  the  MoEF  before  the  Tribunal  and  to  impose heavy  cost  for  adjournment  of  the  matters  without  any justification.” 

Presently on 27 November 2013, when  the  cases  came  up  again  for hearing,  neither  any  representative  of  the MoEF nor any Counsel was present.   The cases were to be adjourned again. Consequently, NGT directed ‘Mr. Surjit Singh, Joint Secretary, MoEF (dealing  with the matters  of  NGT)  to  be  present  with  complete  records  on these cases on next date in order to ensure that in future the  matters  are  not  required  to  be  adjourned  for  want  of representation on behalf of MoEF. We further  impose  the  cost  of  Rs.  25,000  to  be covered  from  the  salaries  of  all  the  concerned  officers  in the MoEF.’

 Pushp Jain (ERC)

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