Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh High Court has asked the State Secretary for Mining and Mineral Resources to shut down all major mineral mines that have not obtained consent from the State Pollution Control Board.

State Government’s reply to the Court revealed that out of 3,189 quarry leases of minor minerals, only 1,730 had obtained clearance from the Pollution Control Board.

The Court has asked the Mining Secretary to immediately issue instructions to all the officers to ensure that the remaining minor mineral quarry leases that were operating without the mandatory consent of the Pollution Control Board are closed down.

The matter came up for hearing before the Division Bench of Chief Justice A.K. Pattnaik and Justice Sanjay Yadav.

Previously the Pollution Control Board had admitted before the Court that according to available information 2,697 mines were functioning illegally in the State.

Figures don’t tally

Subsequently the Mining Department stated on affidavit that there were in all around 2,900 mines existing without any environmental clearance across the State. The Mining Department also added that of these, around 1,700 were operational and the rest “non-operational.”

Counsel for petitioner Siddharth Gupta contended that the disparity in the figures provided by both the State Pollution Control Board and the Mining Department on affidavit spoke volumes about environmental insensitivity and apathy of the administration. He contended that a variation of around 1,000 in the figures provided by them showed a gross failure in proper accounting of mining activities in the State.