THE SUPREME Court refused to lift the stay on limestone mining by French cement giant Lafarge in the forests of Meghalaya till the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) submits a report on environmental compliance.
“Till the time appropriate reports are submitted by the ministry of environment and forests, we are not inclined to accept the report of MoEF and permit the mining," a special forest bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices S H Kapadia and Aftab Alam said.
The ministry had recently filed an affidavit before the court stating that it had given the go-ahead on the condition that the company implement various welfare schemes for the locals.
The court was of the view that the ministry's report giving clearance for mining has not appreciated the recommendations of an expert committee that called for comprehensive bio-engineering plan, periodical assessment of flora and fauna and a time bound plan for biodiversity conservation of the area.
The court said it would consider lifting of the stay only after the four conditions mentioned in the report of the expert committee are fulfilled. Among them, Lafarge has to submit detailed comprehensive bio-engineering plan of the area as per the suggestion of Central Institute of Mining & Fuel Research, Nagpur and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur.
The cement firm would have to make periodical assessment of flora and fauna of the area including a time bound plan for conservation as recommended in the digital mapping report of the mining area.
The apex court has also asked for a comprehensive bio-diversity conservation plan with a provision of time bound implementation be prepared by the state government and the fund should be provided by Lafarge in a time-bound manner.
It also asked Lafarge to implement Surface Miner Technology to reduce environmental impact as recommended in the digital mapping report.
The opposition for lifting the February 5 order staying the mining operation came from senior advocate Harish Salve, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter and senior advocate P S Narasimha, appearing for the tribals of Shella village, who raised questions over the environmental clearance report submitted by the MoEF in alleged haste.
The MoEF had filed an affidavit giving a goahead to mining activities on the condition that the company work for the welfare of the locals and would follow some mandatory conditions.
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