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Environment issue: Supreme Court sets up committee to look into safety in Jharkhand coal block allocation

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New Delhi (ILNS): Reacting to a challenge by the State of Jharkhand of the Centre’s coal block allocation, allegedly near eco-sensitive zones, The Supreme Court today overruled the Centre’s objections and decided to form an expert committee to look into the issue.

The court also made a small observation in which it said:

“We are thinking of passing an order on the lines that any proposed mining block about 50 km (from any eco sensitive zone) will not be auctioned for mining.”

In the suit filed under Article 31, Senior Advocate Fali S Nariman appeared for the State of Jharkhand before the bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde. He requested for an early date, saying suits under Article 131 are to be dealt with expeditiously and that no oral evidence or cross-examination is required.

The CJI recorded that parties do not intend to give oral evidence or to cross-examine persons who have filed affidavits.

The CJI suggested the names of Dhananjay Mohan and Ajay Desai for constituting a committee to assess the effect of mining on the ecosystem in the area.

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When Attorney General K K Venugopal said that these allocations should be allowed, because these are important for industries and for development, the CJI said:

“We do not want to stop the development of this country, but we cannot allow the natural resources to be eroded. We want an expert to say that it is safe that’s all. The government can wait till the committee submits its report within a month.”

-India Legal Bureau

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