THE HON'BLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE SRI THOTTATHIL B. RADHAKRISHNAN AND THE HONBLE SRI JUSTICE V.RAMASUBRAMANIAN WRIT PETITION PIL No.341 of 2017 11.10.2018 Mohd. Yakub Pasha and another..Petitioners The Union of India, Rep. by its Principal Secretary, Ministry of Environment Forests, New Delhi, and others. .Respondents
Counsel for the Petitioners:Sri M.Saleem Counsel for the Respondents: GP for Forests, Sri K.Lakshman, Assistant Solicitor General, GP for Mines and Geology, GP for Revenue, Sri S.Niranjan Reddy Ms.Rubaina S Khatoon, Sri K.Rajanna.
? Cases referred
1.Order in Writ Petition (Civil) No.460 of 2004 THE HON’BLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE SRI THOTTATHIL B. RADHAKRISHNAN AND THE HONBLE SRI JUSTICE V.RAMASUBRAMANIAN WRIT PETITION (PIL) No.341 of 2017 ORDER: (Per the Hon’ble the Chief Justice Sri Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan) The substance of this litigation is the grant of permission for open cast manual mining of Laterite in a part of land, which was originally part of reserve forest in Warangal District. The action taken is to grant dereservation of that forest and retain it as forest land and permit open cast manual mining operations for mining of Laterite. The challenge levied through this public interest litigation is founded on issues relatable to alleged environment, wildlife and monuments which deserve to be protected as of archeological importance.
2. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioners, learned Senior Counsel for the private respondents, learned Government Pleader for Forests, learned Assistant Solicitor General, learned Government Pleader for Mines and Geology and learned Government Pleader for Revenue.
3. Following the order dated 30.01.2018, a report has been placed on record by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests. Another report has been placed on record by the District Collector, Jayashankar Bhupalpally District.
4. District Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA, for short) of Warangal District had issued Order No.C1/2679/2016, dated 07.10.2016, paving way for the project in question. That environmental clearance is also made subject to the final order that may be issued by the Honble Supreme Court of India in Goa Foundation v. Union of India in Writ Petition (Civil) No.460 of 2004. The private respondents, who are the beneficiaries of such environmental clearance, have not filed any appeal against that decision before the National Green Tribunal under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. Therefore, they are bound by its terms.
5. The question that needs to be considered in this Writ Petition would be as to whether there is any violation of the constitutional provisions and principles and/or the statutory provisions which govern the grant of environmental clearance. Hearing the learned counsel for the parties on the basis of the materials and reports on record, we see that the DEIAA clearance has been rendered taking into consideration relevant aspects in terms of ecology, environment, forests, wildlife, mining and also the need to utilize the available laterite through the process of sustainable development in the best interest of the community at large and intergenerational rights. We do not, therefore, see that the afore-noted order issued by DEIAA, Warangal District, is in conflict with law.
6. The aforesaid takes us to the question as to mode in which the different conditions imposed through the DEIAA clearance order ought to be regulated and its compliance obtained to the satisfaction of the competent authority or authorities in different streams of law which govern the operations of the project. The learned Government Pleader submits that the District Collector, Jayashankar Bhupalpally District, has filed the report after assessing the situation. We, therefore, take it that after the coming into being of the District by name Jayashankar Bhupalpally District, carving it out of the erstwhile Warangal District, DEIAA would have been constituted for the new District, namely Jayashankar Bhupalpally District. There cannot be any vacuum in the matter. Therefore, even if, technically, DEIAA for the new district, namely Jayashankar Bhupalpally District, is yet to be convened by the District Collector as its Chairperson, it has to be taken that the District Collector of that Jayashankar Bhupalpally District has the authority to ensure audit and compliance with the directions and conditions imposed through the order No.C1/2679/2016, dated 07.10.2016, which is Ex.P12.
7. We have gone through the different conditions imposed by the DEIAA. Specific conditions which are regulatory as also preventive and restorative are enjoined. The general conditions include the obligation of the operators to provide environmental management cell, occupational health surveillance program and other aspects.
8. The requirement in terms of the laws governing the management of the forest lands and environment in the forest lands and also matters relating to impact on climate change would have to be taken as a cohesive situation to be dealt with by DEIAAs. That authority has in its team, the Department of Forest and the Pollution Control Board also, being represented as Members of that authority, apart from the Collector being the Chairperson, and the Revenue Divisional Officer concerned, as its Member Secretary. Such combination of officers and departments ought to be there in all DEIAAS for cohesive and meaningful control, due management and regulation of the entire relevant spectrum.
9. In public interest, what emerges from the aforesaid discussion, on the facts and materials on record, is that the competent authority under the command of the District Collector of Jayashankar Bhupalpally District ought to ensure that there is complete compliance of the conditions imposed as per the order No.C1/2679/2016, dated 07.10.2016, issued by the DEIAA, which had jurisdiction over the area. The Chief Conservator of Forests for the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests or other officers under his command in the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change; the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Government of Telangana; and the Director of Mines and Geology, Government of Telangana, are directed to ensure that the activities of respondents 11 and 12 in terms of the Stage-I approval given by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change are carried out only in strict conformity with the conditions imposed by that authority. The District Collector, Jayashankar Bhupalpally District, shall ensure that no activity is carried out, except in compliance of the directions contained in the order No.C1/2679/2016, dated 07.10.2016, of DEIAA. All such compliance and audit of such compliance shall be, in letter and spirit, to ensure that the regulatory mechanisms are appropriately carried out while permitting the activities by respondents 11 and 12 to be taken forward in accordance with law.
The Writ Petition is, accordingly, ordered. Consequently, all the interdictions imposed through interlocutory orders in this case shall stand vacated as on today.
The miscellaneous petitions pending in this Writ Petition, if any, shall stand closed. There shall be no order as to costs. ______________________________________ THOTTATHIL B. RADHAKRISHNAN, CJ _______________________________________ V.RAMASUBRAMANIAN, J 11.10.2018