After the division judge deciding to overturn the decision of the Kerala Government of banning private and joint sector companies to mine mineral beach sands along the coast, the Kerala government will be taking the case over to the apex court.
On Friday, the division bench comprising Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Babu Mathew P Joseph gave the order while dismissing a writ appeal by the state government. On a petition by M/s. Kerala Rare Earths and Minerals, Aluva, the single judge had on Feb 21 last year directed the government to pass orders on the applications filed by the company for mining license in accordance with law.
Earlier, the Government granted mining lease in respect of areas covered by four applications by the same company.
The court observed that there cannot be a different policy in respect of different areas covered by different applications put up by the same company.
At present, only two companies in the public sector enjoy the right to mine mineral sand. The court's judgement created controversy in the United Democratic Front (UDF) as it alleged the government appealed against the Single Bench order after 18 months.
TN Prathapan, a Congress MLA, has criticised the advocate general (AG) for the state's delay in filing an appeal against the previous single bench order. He urged the chief minister to take action against the AG. He even alleged the AG's delayed response was deliberate to 'help' the private sector lobby.
Shibu Baby John, minister for labour, who comes from the Chavara constituency in Kollam district, where mineral sand is abundant, said, mining in the private sector would not be allowed at any cost.
Kerala's sea coast, especially Kollam and Alappuzha, has abundant mineral sand comprising monazite and elmanate. Presence of thorium, a rare mineral, has been detected in some areas.
The Private sector has alleged to have badly hit the ecosystem of the coastal belt besides endangering several species of marine organisms.