Monday, October 2, 2023

Gauhati High Court directs to ensure mining activities carried out strictly within the confines of the concession area

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The Gauhati High Court directed the the respondents to ensure by proper monitoring that the mining activities of Dora Nala and Thaikul Nala quarries are carried out strictly within the confines of the concession area and that no illegal mining activities are permitted in the Madhura River bed.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Arun Dev Choudhury closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the petitioners raising a grievance regarding illegal extraction of stones from small canals/nalas of Madhura River by using excavator/JCB.

The mining leases for minor minerals were granted by the concerned department from the Dora nala and Thaikul Nala which are tributaries of the Madhura River.

The High Court vide order dated 06.02.2020, directed constitution of a Three Member Team which conducted spot enquiries on 13.02.2020 and 14.02.2020. The report of the Three Member team indicated that it did not notice any activity of collection/extraction of stones from the river bank of Madhura river. However, it was noticed that stones were being extracted from nearby quarries, i.e. Dora Nala and Thaikul Nala. The team further reported that the Dora Nala stone extraction permit was issued for the purpose of Government development works under the Assam Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2013 whereas Thaikul Nala stone quarry was settled through a competitive bidding process as laid down under the Rules of 2013. The committee also reported that previous reports prepared by the department were not in conformity with the findings of the committee. The department in turn, filed an additional affidavit on 20.04.2023 wherein aspersions have been cast on one who claimed to be representing the petitioners and assisted the committee without any authority. It was further alleged that one who was an unsuccessful bidder had participated in the tender process for settlement of the Dora Nala and Michikur Nala concession areas.

Considering the facts mentioned above, and as the committee itself has reported that the stone extraction activities are not being presently carried out from the Madhura river, and since the stone quarries of Dora Nala and Thaikul Nala are operating under valid leases granted under Rules, 2013, the Bench held that no further directions are required to be issued in the petition.

“Needless to say that if at all the petitioners are aggrieved by mining leases granted for extraction of stones from Dora Nala and Thaikul Nala, they would be required to avail the suitable remedy for challenging the same”, the Bench said.

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