PANJIM: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed 25 mining lease holders, that are alleged to be operational without valid Environment Clearances (ECs), to appear before the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).
The NGT, Pune bench, in its order passed on August 9 directed the leaseholders to appear before the Ministry on September 7 in connection with implementation of the judgement of the Supreme Court dated July 12, 2016 in the matter of Talaulikar & Sons Pvt Ltd versus Union of India & another. MoEF has to file the compliance report before the next hearing.
The order came to be passed on an application filed by Shankar Jog and Goa Foundation which moved the NGT on grounds that MoEF was not taking any action to comply with the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of these 25 mining leases.
The mining lease holders were issued show cause notices in October last year. The leases belong to Chowgule & Co Pvt Ltd, Sesa Mining Corp Ltd, EMCO Goa Pvt Ltd, Pandurang Timblo, Sociedade Timblo Irmaos Ltd, Rep Timblo Pvt Ltd, Sesa Resources Ltd, M S Talaulikar, Baddrudin Husainbhai Mavani Sova, RS Shetye & Bros, V G Quenim and Rajesh Timblo. The matter will be heard on October 11.
The Apex Court in its judgement had said, “No party can carry out mining activity without a valid EC granted under the provisions of the EIA notification issued under the EPA 1986.”
The petitioner pointed out that the mining leases were granted ECs under the 1994 EIA Notification for a period of two years only, subject to production of a hydro-geological study. “In their cases too, once they submitted the hydro-geological study to the MoEF, Ministry illegally extended the original ECs without a public hearing and EAC consideration of the proposal,” it stated.
“Applicants submit that in view of the Supreme Court's judgment dated 12.7.2016 that has held as illegal the MoEF orders extending the conditional ECs without following full procedure as per the EIA Notification, the operation of the leases of these 24 can no longer be sustained and they must cease operations forthwith,” the petition added.
The petitioners pointed out that the leases today do not have a valid EC, as the ECs lost their validity after the initial two year grant and are not entitled to resume mining operations without a valid EC henceforth or till they have complied with the procedures laid down in law.
Before approaching NGT, GF had called up MoEF in September 2016 drawing its attention to the fact that of the 52 mining leases, 25 mining leases EC does not stand today. However, MoEF failed to respond.