The Bombay high court recently directed the Maharashtra government to act against illegal extraction of minor minerals in the state. The government has been told to issue directions to revenue officers to act according to law.
A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and Amjad Sayyed said: "The state government shall issue directions to the revenue officers throughout the state for identifying cases of different categories of illegal extraction of minor minerals."
Minor minerals include building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand, limes stone used for lime burning, boulders, kankar, murum, brick earth, bentonite, road metal, slate, marble, stones used for making household utensils, etc.
The direction was given during the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by a Solapur resident, Baburao Jadhavar, highlighting the mass-scale mining and excavation going on there. The court, after going through the affidavits filed by the different departments of the government, noted that the issue highlighted is of public importance.
The directions of the court state that the state government issue directions to the revenue officers to take action of seizing the stock and/or machinery in accordance with law and action should be taken for termination of agreement/leases where there are breaches of terms and conditions on which mining was permitted.
The court also directed the officers to carry out proceedings to recover the amounts payable by offenders under various sections of the Maharashtra Minor Mineral Extraction (development and regulation) Rules 2013. The state has been directed to file a compliance report in the court by August 30.
The court also appreciated the efforts of the petitioner in highlighting the problem and directed the state government to pay him the litigation cost of Rs25,000 within eight weeks.