Apex court extends ban on mining in Aravalli foothills

May 8th, 2009 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Taking note of the “serious ecological degradation” of the Aravalli foothills in Haryana, the Supreme Court Friday extended the ban on mining activities in the region that has been badly scarred due to largescale extraction of marble and other material.
The court also asked the state government and union environment ministry to take steps to restore the water table in the region and undo the ecological degradation by undertaking plantation and other measures.

Extending the ban on mining, first imposed in May 2002, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan ordered that it would consider the question of mining “minor minerals” like sandstone, limestone and other construction material in the region only after the forthcoming summer vacation.

It extended the ban on mining on nearly 450 sq km area of the Aravalli hills in the Gurgaon, Faridabad and Mewat districts of Haryana.

The bench, which also included Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S.H. Kapadia, said it does not favour resuming mining of “major minerals”, like silica, manganese and other metallic and non-metallic ores, which are available at a depth roughly below the water table in the area that led to depletion of the water table.

In contrast, the “minor minerals” are mined at a depth of a few meters below the earth surface, which add to air pollution.

The bench ordered for continued ban saying that “in view of the serious ecological degradation in the area, it cannot permit any mining activity in the region”.

The bench also asked the state government, besides the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment to take steps to restore the water table in the region and undo the ecological degradation.

The court ordered continued ban on mining activities in the area on a bunch of lawsuits by some environmentalists and Delhi resident M.C. Mehta.

Earlier, during the hearing in March, the bench had displayed its inclination against resuming mining operations, appreciating the fears of environmentalists that continued battering of this natural barrier would lead to expansion of the desert region in the west.

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