High Court asks MP Government to stop illegal mining in SSP area

SSP area-sand miningJabalpur: In a significant order on Wednesday, a Division Bench of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh (Jabalpur Bench) comprising Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Moolchand Garg directed a complete stay on all sand mining operations in the Sardar Sarovar Project affected areas in the state asked the Government of Madhya Pradesh to furnish complete details of the mining activities in the project areas.

The Court expressed its serious dissatisfaction at the refusal of the State to furnish the details and categorically ordered that there shall be no further sand mining in the SSP affected areas, until satisfactory information is filed in terms of the previous Orders. The Court found force in the contentions of the petitioner – Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) – and noted that the Mining Department could not have granted mining lease in the SSP area as land in this area is vested in the Narmada Valley Development Authority.

On March 26 this year, Chief Justice A.M. Khanvilkar had issued a specific directive to the Collectors of all the concerned districts to file affidavit and provide in tabular form the names of lessees, date on which lease permission was granted and date on which the land in respect of which lease has been granted, has been vested in NVDA.

Despite two extensions in th deadline for filing affidavits on April 7 and April 22, the government had failed to provide the necessary information. On April 22, the Government was even directed to file the reply within 3 days.

A ‘Compliance Report’ was filed on the April 25 regading the sand mining leases in the Badwani and Dhar Districts but it did not contain all the details. Coinciding with this NBA filed a reply with specific examples from different villages showing how land that was vested in NVDA for more than 10 years had been leased out for mining activity by the State.

Pleading for the petitioners – NBA and SSP oustees affected by the mining activities, NBA leader Medha Patkar urged the Court to immediately stop all mining activity in the SSP area.

The Court directed the State Government to immediately file a detailed reply. The Pollution Control Board and Union Ministry of Environment and Forests were also directed to file detailed replies at the earliest.

The matter has been listed for further hearing on May 12.