HC directs PCB to ensure gypsum extraction does not impact environment

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Dec 20: The High Court today directed the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) to ensure that the process of exploration and extraction of gypsum at Ramban does not impact the environment of the area and disturb the ecological balance.
Justice Sanjeev Kumar while dismissing the plea of petitioner contractor to quash the NIT in question, expected that PCB would perform its statutory duty and would constitute a team of its experts to visit the site of exploration and assess the impact on environment of such exploration and issue requisite orders and instructions to the concerned to ensure that ecological balance of the area is not disturbed and the people of area are not exposed to any environment hassle.
“It may also be made clear that dismissal of this petition, which has been ordered in peculiar facts and circumstances as explained, shall not be taken by respondents as approval of their action taken under special circumstances and they shall remain careful in future and ensure that while granting/renewing mining lease, all parameters as provided under the Act of 1957 and Rules framed there under and directives issued by the Supreme Court from time to time are strictly adhered to”, read the judgment and directed the copy of the judgment shall be served upon J&K State Pollution Control Board for compliance.
Petitioner, who is a sole proprietor of micro, small and medium enterprise registered under M/S Baba Chemical, has called in question the tender document and Government Order no.111-IND of 2016 dated 20th May 2016 whereby lease was granted by the authorities in favour of other contractor for extraction of gypsum at Parlanka, Ramban.
Apart from challenging the aforesaid Government order and tender document, he has also sought direction to grant fresh mining lease by strictly complying with provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and Rules framed thereunder.
He also sought a direction to respondent-authorities to issue fresh NIT for extraction/purchase of gypsum at Parlanka, Ramban, so that he too participates in the same. “For all these reasons explained above, I do not find any merit in this petition and the same is, accordingly, dismissed”, court concluded.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir is endowed with rich reserves of gypsum. Large quantity of gypsum is available in district of Ramban. An area of 246 hectares in Parlanka of district Ramban, where there is abundance of gypsum reserves, has been demarcated.
The Government through its Public Sector Undertaking- J&K Power Development Corporation (JKPDC) is in the process of constructing Sawalakote Hydro Electric Dam Project and for that purpose, JKPDC approached the Department of Geology and Mining for their No Objection.
While processing No Objection Certificate, demanded by JKPDC, it was noted by Department of Geology and Mining that there are huge gypsum reserves, coming under submergence zone, which are required to be exploited/extracted before commissioning Hydro Electric Project. It has been brought to the notice of this court that with a view to extracting maximum possible gypsum reserves, the Government decided to grant lease of about 246 hectares area in the Parlanka Sector at Ramban to present contractor, so that gypsum reserves are explored before mining area containing gypsum reserves comes under submergence of Dam Project.
It is in this background that Government (vide Order no.III-IND of 2016 dated 20th May 2016) accorded renewal of mining lease for gypsum occurring on an area of 246 hectares at village Sumerbogh, Hodog, Parlanka, district Ramban, falling under different Khasra numbers, excluding the area falling in demarcated Forest.
“Viewed thus in the light of aforesaid settled position, it cannot be said that eligibility prescribed in NIT with respect to financial capacity of bidder is either arbitrary or discriminatory or actuated by malice”, Justice Kumar recorded.