Supreme Court thinks about setting expert panel to Study Effect of Mining near Eco-Sensitive Zones

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde including Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian on Wednesday said that it is thinking to set up a committee to study the effect of mining in the coal blocks in the State of Jharkhand near Eco-sensitive regions. The court orally remarked that it was proposing to stay the auction process of coal blocks scheduled in November for a month till the committee submits the report.

The bench considered names of M K Jiwarajka and Dhananjay Mohan as members of the expert committee.

This decision of Supreme Court is objected by AG KK Venugopal who said that the stay will affect the plans of Union Government to revive Industrial production across the country and will also affect the Union in rebuilding Economy.

AG sought for a day’s time from Court to place on record materials which would “satisfy the court’s conscience” regarding the environmental concerns.

The court adjourned the hearing in the matter till November 6th.

In the case CJI told AGI that they are concerned that many mines are situated close to the forest areas. The court only ants to satisfy their concern about environment for which the court have asked the committee to submit its report by the next month. Till which AG is asked to wait. And taking into account the request of AG the court also deferred the hearing till Friday and passed no order.

The State of Jharkhand has also filed an original suit under Article 131 challenging the Ministry of Coal’s decision to auction coal blocks situated in the state for commercial mining. In the suit it has called the act as very inappropriate on part of Centre to conduct auction at the time of pandemic when all the machinery of state and center have to alleviate the problems of its people which has erupted due to COVID-19.

In reply of it the Centre has called the auction unilateral without consultation with the state of Jharkhand. The plaintiff is the owner of the mines within its area settled by advocates including Jharkhand’s Additional Advocate General Tapesh Singh.

The plea said that Jharkhand has a forest cover of 29.4 percent and the coal blocks put up for auction are situated in forest lands. The plaintiff also added that the present situation is not good for auction because that will surely be affected by weak economic conditions and step of Centre without proper consultation & coordination with the state is unjustified.