‘Apex court panel ignored land degradation in Aravali range’


New Delhi : A Supreme Court appointed panel was Thursday accused of ignoring for five years the continued degradation of the land in the Aravali ranges near Faridabad in Haryana due to rampant mining.

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Appearing for Faridabad and Gurgaon Minerals, a mining firm operating in a 900 acre area of Faridabad district, senior counsel Anil Divan made the allegation before an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

Divan made the allegation while opposing the recent recommendations by the apex court-appointed panel to save the degradation of the Aravali ranges by methods ranging from banning deep mining operations in the area to restoring degraded land.

Divan said senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, heading the apex court’s panel, formed to keep a tab on the degradation of land in the area due to mining operations and unauthorised constructions, “kept quiet for the last five years” amidst the falling water table due to rampant mining.

“Now he has suddenly advised restoration of degraded land. But one does not know how to restore degraded land of a mining field. He does not understand what is meant by restoration of degraded mines,” said Divan.

He also opposed the panel’s recommendation to allow surface mining in an area of only 1,500 acres for various construction material likes stones after the government first acquires the entire area and then auctions it off in 75-acre blocks.

Divan pointed out that his client alone conducted operations in 900 acres of the 1,500 acres the panel has recommended the government acquire.

Divan said he did not understand the rationale of first acquiring the mining fields from his client, paying them the compensation and then making them bid for the same fields when they were carrying out operations after the approval of various statutory authorities, including the pollution control board and the ministry of environment.

Divan will continue his argument Friday before a special bench, also known as the forest bench that keeps tab on the damage to the environment due to various developmental activities of commercial nature across the country.