The Supreme Court has directed the central government to make it compulsory for mine leaseholders to re-grass the mined area after completing mining operations, and recommended this stringent condition to be made part of the environmental clearance (EC) for mining.
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and comprising Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant, has asked the central government to come up with a process, which leads to compliance of re-grassing norms by mine leaseholders.
The direction after the bench heard a plea filed by the NGO Common Cause which had challenged large scale illegal mining across the country.
The Supreme Court observed that it is essential to restore the mining area after operations have ceased and the next step should be to grow grass and other vegetation in this area, which is beneficial for the animals too.
Advocate A DN. Rao, the amicus curiae on the matter, said the ministry concerned should link re-grassing to the mine closure plan, as usually after mining activity, the leaseholders vacate the area without paying heeding to the re-development of the area.
The bench stated, “The Union of India should impose this condition in the environmental clearance for the mining lease”. It also observed after the mining activity is over the land should be restored for the growth of fodder, flora, fauna etc, which is necessary for the survival of herbivores.
“Similar condition should be imposed for granting the environmental clearance,” the Supreme Court added.