A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday stayed a single judge’s directive to permit mining and quarrying operations in 123 environmentally sensitive villages on the Western Ghats in the State.
The Bench, headed by Justice K. Surendra Mohan, passed the stay order on an appeal filed by Sarngadharan of Kottayam challenging the order of the single judge directing the environment impact assessment (EIA) authorities to process the applications by quarry owners for environmental clearance as though it was falling on non-Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs).
According to the petitioner’s appeal, the ESAs had not been finalised in the State till date.
As a result, the prohibitory order issued under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 by the Centre remained in force and it would have to be strictly followed by the authorities concerned.
In fact, the EIA authorities concerned could not be expected to act on a draft notification, which was subject to change and could be replaced by the original notification soon, the petitioner said.
The petitioner pointed out that as per the order issued on November 13, 2013, the Centre had prohibited quarrying, sand-mining, red category of industries and other new projects except those which had already got approval from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and other environmental authorities.
The petitioner also pointed out that the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal in 2014 had made it clear that the ban would be applicable to the entire eco-sensitive area of the Western Ghats and no fresh environmental clearance or permissions shall be issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests till it issued the final notification in terms of Section 3 of the Act of 1986.The single judge’s order would cause irreparable injury and damage to the environment and ecology at large, the petitioner contended.
As per NGT order, ban would be applicable to all of Western Ghats
Petitioner says ESAs have not been finalised in the State till date
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