Andhra Pradesh

A.P. High Court dismisses writs filed by mining company

The Andhra Pradesh Hight Court has dismissed three writ petitions filed by Stone Plus company and upheld the action of the Forest Department in its orders passed on November 25.

The court observed that the mining was conducted in forest land in an extent of 5.33 hectares on Somalamma hill and upheld the Forest Department’s claim that the mining led to financial loss of around ₹3.05 crore, excavation of 43,772.16 cubic metres of granite and loss to biodiversity in the area.

It may be remembered that Stone Plus had obtained a mining licence from the Mines and Geology Department and had started mining operations in 2016 on the hill near the Kalyanapulova reservoir.

Since 2017, local tribals and farmers of Kalyanapulova have been urging the government to conduct an enquiry and cancel the mining licence granted to the firm.

They claimed that in 1986, Somalamma hill was notified as a Reserve Forest (RF) under the Forest Act and named as Cheemalapadu Forest Block. But new revenue survey numbers were created to facilitate a mining licence, which was in violation of forest laws, the tribals alleged.

The tribals brought to the notice of the authorities the fact that the mining company had not only conducted excavations atop the hill, which is a notified RF, but has also disturbed the catchment area of the reservoir.

When the company received notices from Irrigation, Mining and Forest Departments, they filed three cases in the High Court.

Subsequently, the Forest Department stopped the mining operations in May this year. When the company tried to take away the granite and vehicles from the mining site, local tribals objected and protested. The Forest Department had filed a criminal case against the company in October.

The High Court had passed an order for a joint survey on October 20, this year.

The survey was conducted on October 29, as per the Court’s order, with the participation of Sub-Collector, Narsipatanam, AD Mines and Geology, AD Survey and Land Records and DFO, Vishakhapatnam along with Stone Plus legal representatives.

In the joint survey, it was clearly established the mining operation was carried out in the forest area. This report was placed before the Court. Based on the report, the High Court has dismissed the cases.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 11:04:14 PM |

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