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Issue 19
, 2009
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The Aravallis in danger---SC nod to partial mining unjustified

Source: The Tribune, New Delhi, Date: , 2009

The Supreme Court’s “conditional permission” for resumption of mining in the Aravalli region of Faridabad and Palwal in Haryana is cause for concern. It is bound to be viewed with skepticism by many because the miners and the state government have consistently failed to take adequate measures to restore the exhausted Aravalli mines. The apex court’s Forest Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice Aftab Alam has permitted mining of minor minerals on a patch of 600 hectares in Faridabad and Palwal following the state government’s submission that it would formulate a mining auction scheme in three months and a comprehensive eco-restoration scheme in six months. However, if the government’s track record is any indication, it has always reneged on its promise. Significantly, when the apex court had imposed a “blanket ban” on mining in Aravallis on May 8, 2009, it maintained that it was forced to take the “hard decision” because the government and the miners had “completely breached the trust reposed in them”. As indiscriminate mining for past several decades has wreaked havoc in Aravalli hills, mining must be stopped forthwith to protect the environment. There is no material change in the ground realities between May 2009 and today. If the court had banned mining then on grounds of depletion and contamination of ground water, ecological degradation and non-compliance of statutory provisions on mining and environment, the same reasons hold good for continuing the ban today. The Aravallis, one of the world’s oldest hill ranges, are being systematically torn apart by miners in collusion with officials. The apex court’s order for conditional mining is not conducive for the health of the Aravallis.