The Supreme Court has directed the Central Government to impose a mandatory condition in the mining lease, mining plan and environmental clearance that re-grassing of the mining area should be undertaken by mining lease holders after mining operations.
A bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, Justices Surya Kant and B R Gavai ordered so after noting that mining operations in an area results in complete elimination of grass.
"it is observed that an area which is mined results in complete elimination of grass which in turn denies fodder to the herbivores.
The only solution can be re-grassing of such mined areas. It is not in dispute that re-grassing technology is available in this country.
We see no reason why the area which has been mined should not be restored so that grass and other vegetations including trees can grow in the mining area for the benefits of animals", the Court said.
On this basis, it was ordered :
"We are of the view that this can be achieved by directing the Union of India to impose a condition in the mining lease and a similar condition in the environmental clearance and the mining plan to the effect that the mining lease holders shall, after ceasing mining operations, undertake re-grassing the mining area and any other area which may have been disturbed due to their mining activities and restore the land to a condition which is fit for growth of fodder, flora, fauna etc."
This interim order was passed in the case Common Cause v Union of India.
The Court clarified that the re-grassing operations should be done at the cost of mining lease holders. This condition should be in addition to other conditions in the mine closure plan, and should not be in any derogation of existing conditions.
The Centre has been asked to file an action-taken report within three weeks.