Greens welcome extension of ban on Aravalli mining


Chandigarh : Conservationists and even Haryana’s environment minister Friday welcomed the Supreme Court decision to extend a ban on mining in the state’s Aravalli hills, one of the oldest mountain chains in India, saying it would check rampant ecological degradation.

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“This verdict would be beneficial not only for Haryana but for the whole country. In fact, I myself was fighting against various individuals and authorities for the ban on mining,” Haryana’s Minister for Environment and Forests Kiran Chaudhary told IANS.

The Supreme Court Friday extended the ban on mining over a 450 sq km area of the Aravalli hills in the Gurgaon, Faridabad and Mewat districts of Haryana in view of “serious ecological degradation in the area”. Large-scale mining is believed to have dried up many lakes in the state, depleted the water table and affected grazing area.

An elated Kiran Chaudhary said: “We are steadfast about making Haryana the most eco-friendly state of the country.” She has been against the state’s mining mafia for a long time.

Parmod Sharma, coordinator of Yuvsatta, an NGO working for environment in the region, said: “Mindless mining at Aravalli hills has led to various ecological imbalances and dried up many famous water bodies of the area.”

“The water resources of the region are drying up rapidly and the green belts have also been converted into virtual deserts.”

Mining in the Aravalli hills had been going on for decades, largely due to political patronage from the powers that be in the state and central government. The northern end of the vast Aravalli ranges extends to Faridabad district in Haryana, around 300 km from here.

“Continuous mining in the Aravallis has caused a draught-like situation in the region and a sharp decline in the water table. Many beautiful lakes and water bodies have dried up and there is no grass left for the animals to graze on,” said Rohit Ruhella, an environmentalist.

“There were times when the famous lakes Badkal, Damdama and Dhauj were prominent tourist spots, but now they have dried up and nobody goes there. Even after the expiry of the mining lease, it was stealthily going on at Sirohi and Khori Jamalpur mines in the area,” said Ruhella.

Extending the ban on mining, first imposed in May 2002, the Supreme Court bench, which included Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, said it does not favour resuming mining of “major minerals” like silica, manganese and other metallic and non-metallic ores, available at a depth roughly below the water table in the area as that further depletes the water table.