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Make re-grassing after mining mandatory: Supreme Court

A view of the Supreme Court of India.

A view of the Supreme Court of India.  

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The Bench learnt that environmental issues caused by mining include erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals from mining processes

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that mining lease holders should be held responsible for re-grassing mined areas so that biodiversity gets a second chance in these scarred landscapes.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde ordered the government to include re-grassing of mined areas as a mandatory condition in every mining lease, environmental clearance and mining plan across the country.

The Bench learnt that environmental issues caused by mining include erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals from mining processes. In fact, the effects of coal mining persist for years, the court was told.

“We see no reason why the area which has been mined should not be restored so that grass and other vegetation, including trees, can grow in the mining area for the benefits of animals. 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.” the Supreme Court directed in a four-page order.

The government was ordered to file an action taken report in three weeks.

The Bench directed the government to devise the necessary methods to ensure compliance by mining lease holders. The cost of re-grassing the mined area and wherever damaged would be entirely borne by the licence holder.

The mandatory re-grassing would be in addition to the other conditions to restore biodiversity imposed on the licence holder in the mine closure plan.

“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,” Chief Justice Bobde recorded in the order.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 4:59:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/make-re-grassing-after-mining-mandatory-supreme-court/article30514775.ece

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