The Karnataka High Court has asked the state government to inform whether it will be carrying out a survey of all quarries in the State in a phased manner and whether any action of determination of lease/licenses is taken by the State Government during the year 2020.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said "We, therefore, direct the State Government to file supplementary statement of objections stating whether any direction has been issued to carry out survey of all quarries in the State in a phased manner and whether any action of determination of lease/licenses has been taken by the State Government during the year 2020."
The directions were given in a petition filed by SAMAJA PARIVARTHANA SAMITHI (R) highlighting the issue of illegal quarrying being undertaken in the state. By order dated December 8, 2020 the court had said "In a large number of cases, public interest litigations are being filed complaining about the instances of illegal quarrying or instances of quarrying being carried out in breach of the terms of the lease/licence. There are also grievances made regarding carrying out unauthorized activity of stone crushing or activity of stone crushing in breach of the licence granted under the Karnataka Regulation of Stone Crushers Act, 2011."
It added "Illegal mining or illegal stone crushing has a direct impact on the environment and ecology. Considering the precautionary principle and the doctrine of public trust, it is the duty of the State Government and the State Pollution Control Board to take immediate action for preventing illegal quarrying or illegal stone crushing."
The court had then directed the both the State Government and the State Pollution Control Board to set up grievance redressal mechanism, so that citizens can launch complaints by taking recourse to the said mechanism which will ensure that the complaints are immediately attended to and necessary action is initiated against the wrong doers
Accordingly the state and the pollution control board in their affidavits filed on February 3, informed the court that Grievance Redressal Mechanism has been constituted and a 'Monthly Drive' is proposed.
The bench though noted that "There are no details given about specific action taken against quarrying lease holders who have committed breaches. There is no statement made stating that a survey of all mines in the State shall be carried out in a phase wise manner with a view to ascertain whether any illegalities have been committed by them.
Following which the court directed the state government to file a supplementary statement of objections stating whether any direction has been issued to carry out a survey of all quarries in the State in a phased manner. The supplementary statement of objections is to be filed within a period of one month from today.
The matter will be next heard on March 8.