New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia Sunday said that illegal mining was going on in various states of the country and called upon the central government to put in place a regulator for both appraisal and pricing of extracted minerals.
'Illegal mining is going on in different states,' said Justice Kapadia, who presided over the valedictory function of a seminar 'Global environment and disaster management: Law and Society'.
He said that norms concerning mining were there but these were being flouted at the state level.
'All norms and mining plans are there, but at the state level, they are being flouted for some reasons. We do not have machinery to supervise even mining plans for environmental protection. There is a biggest problem of pricing. Time has come when excavated minerals should be judged, auctioned or should have price determining mechanism,' he said.
'Over the years, I have come to realise that loopholes are not in law, loopholes are in our character,' Justice Kapadia added.
His remarks come at a time when Karnataka Lokayukta's yet-to-be submitted report on illegal mining has created a political storm in the state, as it apparently names Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and some other political leaders.
Justice Kapadia said there was under-invoicing in the prices of extracted minerals and it was sold abroad for a huge margin.
He said that a problem faced by the apex court was of cases relating to buildings and projects coming up at the end in the form of public interest litigations (PILs).
Justice Kapadia said that in many cases, village bodies initially grant no objection certificates, but later turn their backs and protest against the projects.
His remarks come in the wake of courts stricking down some of the land acquisitions made by the Uttar Pradesh government in Greater Noida.
The Supreme Court had earlier this month quashed acquisition of land in Shahberi village in Greater Noida. A total of 156 hectares of village land was acquired by Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) in Shahberi and then sold to developers at exorbitant rates.
The Allahabad High Court too has quashed acquisition of 598 hectares in Patwari village - the second land acquisition struck down by the court this month.
Justice Kapadia called for a regulatory mechanism for appraisement of projects, saying that the authorities cannot rely on the reports of the project proponents.
He also referred to reduction in arable land in the country.
He said development should take place in a scientific manner and courts were sometimes faced with cases relating to choosing between protection of livelihood and environment.
Regulator for green appraisals soon, says PM
New Delhi, July 24, PTI:
In the backdrop of the controversy over environmental clearances to major projects, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said an independent regulator would soon revamp the process and help protect ecology without bringing back ''the hated licence permit raj'' in the country.
“We hope to establish an independent regulator, the National Environment Appraisal and Monitoring Authority soon. This authority could lead to a complete change in the process of granting environmental clearances. Staffed by dedicated professionals, it will work on a full time basis to evolve better and more objective standards of scrutiny,” Singh said at a seminar on “Global Environment and Disaster Management: Law and Society”.
The move to establish the authority appears to have come in the wake of stalling of several industrial and mining projects by the Environment Ministry, till recently led by Jairam Ramesh.
The prime minister hoped that in future there would not be much litigation in projects due to environmental issues. “I must also mention that but for the enduring wisdom of our judiciary, we would not have the bulk of what we proudly call ‘environmental jurisprudence’,” Singh said.
Singh maintained that in the 1990s, due to rapid industrialisation, brought about by economic liberalisation, there was a threat of depletion of natural resources. But the judiciary had ensured there was no compromise on this issue.
“Over all, a major challenge ahead is to put in place a legal and regulatory framework which is effective in protecting the environment but without bringing back the hated license permit raj of the pre-1991 period,” Singh said.
Singh also hailed the new “comprehensive law” which established a specialised tribunal for settlement of a “broad spectrum of environmental cases of civil nature.”
“We have joined a handful of forward looking countries to have such a dedicated mechanism. This tribunal has started functioning and I expect it will help to reduce the workload of our courts,” he said.
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