Local Goa News

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

SC judgement throws mining ECs into question

Apex court sets aside EC granted to mining firm as procedures not followed; petitioner seeks NGT direction to close down all mines that do not have valid EC

PANJIM: In a decision that could have a major impact on the Environment Clearances (EC) granted to 40-odd iron ore mining leases in Goa, the Supreme Court last month set aside an EC granted to Talaulicar and Sons, after it found that the clearance had been granted without following due procedures, including a public hearing.

The judgment could have a wide impact, as petitioner Shankar Jog had also approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) earlier praying for an ‘order or direction ordering the respondent (Government of India) to close down mines in the State of Goa which do not have valid EC following the judgement in the Shankar Jog versus Talaulicar and Sons Private Limited, with immediate effect’.
In Goa, nearly 40-odd ECs to mining leases were granted under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 1994.
The Apex Court has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to commence a fresh process to grant EC to the firm within a period of three months. The Ministry has also been asked to hold consultative process with the State authorities.
MoEF on November 25, 2005 had granted an EC for a period of two years for expansion of Saniem Sacorda Iron Ore Mine falling within Tehsil Sariguem, in South Goa, as per notification 1994.
The firm was directed to conduct a hydrological study on impact of mining on hydrogeology (pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon) and furnish a detailed report on the same to the Ministry. Based on the same, a decision regarding continuation of mining beyond two years or otherwise will be taken. Based on the report, the Ministry on October 18, 2007 granted an EC for a period of five years and this was challenged.
The expansion cum EC for a five year period was in violation of the provisions of the Environment Protection Act, the EIA Notifications and the relevant rules, which makes it mandatory for the government to place the hydrological study before public and hold a public hearing. However, the same was violated.
“In other words, the order dated 18.10.2007 was a cryptic one without giving due regard to the various salient features concerning the environment protection and the interest of the public at large, while granting such clearance and allowing the clearance granted earlier to be valid beyond the initial period of two years and also without specifying as to the other terms and conditions to be complied with,” the three bench Apex Court ruled.
The Supreme Court has also applauded Division Bench of Bombay High Court at Goa, that had made similar observations in the case earlier.

Herald Goa News

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