The Kerala High Court directed the District Geologist, Ernakulam to inspection the subject site and ascertain as to whether there is any excess removal of ordinary earth.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Murali Purushothaman heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed for the following reliefs:
-Issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or directing the respondents to take action to stop the illegal removal of ordinary earth by the Private respondent.
-Issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or directing the respondents to assess the quantity of and the area from which ordinary earth has been removed on the strength of and proceed against the private respondent in accordance with law for the illegal activity.
In the case, a private respondent obtained a permit for removing ordinary earth from 23 cents of said land, and on 20.12.2022 and 21.12.2022, removed and is still removing ordinary earth from an extent of area and in excess of the quantity allowed by the permit issued by the 2nd respondent (District Geologist, Ernakulam) and from the area not covered by the permit. The private respondent has removed ordinary earth for at least two acres. The land from which the ordinary earth is excavated is just adjacent to the Kottachira SC Colony. This act of the private respondent is causing heavy environmental problems to the residents of the Kottachira SC Colony. The private respondent is taking away huge quantities of ordinary earth from the land for commercial purposes under the cover of a building permit, which building is not going to be constructed since there is no proper road access to the land from where mud is excavated.
The application by the private respondent and the permit do not specify the level to which ordinary earth can be excavated. From the plan, it cannot be seen whether a dimensioned plan and sectional drawing showing the abutting road level, the levels and depths of the cutting at all places in respect of excavations for building construction and land development works has been submitted. The 6th respondent (The Executive Engineer, the Periyar Valley Irrigation Project) has assisted the private respondent by constructing a temporary bridge over the PVIP Irrigation Canal for the Private Respondent to transport the ordinary earth without valid permission. Though the residents of the locality and the petitioners had made complaints before the respondents authorities no action was taken against the private respondent so far, and the illegal ordinary earth removal is going on. The petitioners are aggrieved by the inaction from the respondents.
The main contention of the petitioner is that contrary to the extent of permission granted for removal of ordinary earth, private respondent has extracted and illegally removed ordinary earth and despite representations, no action has been taken.
From the material on record, the Court noted that when petitioners obstructed to the removal of ordinary earth, a petition has been filed by the private respondent herein and another, for a mandamus directing the Station House Officer, Kothamangalam Police Station, Ernakulam District, to afford police protection to the petitioners therein, his workers, machinery and vehicles used, for removal of ordinary earth and construction activities of Iramalloor Village in Kothamangalam Taluk. The said petition has been disposed of on 9.12.2022, by a Single Judge of the High Court as under:
“3. The learned Government Pleader would submit that pursuant to the complaint submitted by the petitioners, a conciliation was attempted between the parties and, at present, there is no law and order situation.
4. It is submitted by the learned counsel appearing for respondents 3 to 5 that, at present, the petitioners do not have any authorization or pass to transport the ordinary earth out of the property.
5. Having considered the contentions advanced and in view of the contentions raised by the petitioners that the petitioners have been granted Building Permit, Development Permit as well as due permissions from the Geologist for removal of the ordinary earth as evidenced by Ext.P4, I am of the opinion that the party respondents cannot illegally obstruct such removal. In case they have any objections with regard to removal of earth by the petitioners, it is for them to raise it before the appropriate authorities.
6. In the above view of the matter, in case transit passes are issued to the petitioners and there is any further illegal obstructions for carrying out of the activities specifically in terms of Exts.P1, P2 and on the strength of transit passes duly issued to the petitioners which are in force, the petitioners may inform the Station House Officer who shall afford adequate protection for the legally permitted activities. This writ petition is ordered accordingly.”
While considering the matter, the Court issued notice to the respondents.