Cancel contracts of bidders involved in illegal mining: Court to DC Budgam
Post by Syed Rukaya on Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Srinagar, Dec 12: The trial court Budgam has directed the Deputy Commissioner Budgam to initiate a process for cancellation of contracts of bidders involved in illegal mining in case they have breached the stipulations of original agreement and Environmental Clearance by J&K Environment Impact Assessment Authority (JKEIAA).
The court of Additional District Judge (Fast track) Budgam, Farooq Ahmad Bhat directed the DC Budgam to take every measure to stop illegal transportation of river bed material from Doodganga Nalah beyond 2 Kms radius of the mine site.
It held that the bidders (defendants No. 2 & 3, Danish Yousuf of Pulwama and Rouf Ahmad of Awantipora) if acting against the mandate of law shall be dealt with iron hands and content of Defendant, Doodh Ganga Tipper Owners Association, that ecological balance of the area has got disturbed by the illegal transportation of river bed material to different parts of valley and accumulating illegal surplus to defendant No. 2 & 3.
"Accordingly Deputy Commissioner Budgam shall look into the matter and take every measures to stop illegal transportation of river bed material from Doodganga Nalah beyond 2 Kms radius of the mine site and shall also initiate process/recommend for cancellation of contracts qua defendant No. 2 & 3 in case the defendants No. 2 & 3 have breached the stipulations of original agreement and Environmental Clearance by J&K Environment Impact Assessment Authority," the trial court directed.
The court was hearing a case of a group of tipper drivers (plaintiffs) seeking to transport construction material from the mine site to different parts of Kashmir.
They also sought to declare the act of defendant (Doodh Ganga Tipper Owners Association) by not allowing the plaintiffs or any other individual, tipper drivers or association to carry construction material supplied by the successful bidders, Danish Yousuf, Rouf Ahmad, and Abdul Rasheed Mir of Beerwah, who are also the proforma defendants in the case, to any part of valley as illegal and unwarranted and against the law.
The Doodh Ganga Tipper Owners Association through counsel Badrul Duja submitted that defendant No. 2 and 3 (Danish Yousuf and Rouf Ahmad), are indeed the successful bidders who have been allotted the minor mineral blocks for excavation of river bed material blocks in Doodh Ganga at mining block 11 and 12 respectively, "but fact of the matter is that neither Danish Yousuf nor Rauf Ahmad Dar are executing the work on the ground and instead they have sub-let the entire work to some local residents of Chadoora in the Mineral Blocks 11 and 12."
The counsel pleaded that this issue needs to be investigated in the larger interest of justice.
He contended that while granting the Environmental Clearance by the competent authority, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) constituted by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MOEF) Government of India in every state and UT, the Project Proponents (Contractors) have to abide by certain standard and specific conditions.
"But many of these standard and specific conditions are openly violated by the aforementioned project proponents i.e defendant No 2 and 3 (Danish Yousuf and Rouf Ahmad Dar)," he alleged.
The association through counsel further alleged that the plaintiffs are in hobnobbing with proforma defendants, Danish and Rouf and are hell bent to destroy the ecological balance of the area.
It also alleged that the defendants are acting in contra to the stipulations issued by J&K EIAA which clearly envisages that the river bed material shall be sold to the local population within the radial distance of 2 Kms from the mine site for residential construction purposes at 50% concessional rates.
As per the stipulations of Environmental Clearance issued by JKEIAA which was taken on record by the court, it has been specified that the river bed material is to be sold to the local population within a radial distance of 2 KM from the mine site and the bed material is to be used for residential construction.
The document stated that the project proponent contractors shall take all precautionary measures during mining operations/conservation and protection of endangered fauna and flora in the area.
It was also stated that in terms of environmental clearances the mining shall be done manually and minimally supported by semi-mechanized methods. Heavy machinery like JCBs, L&T Hydraulic Excavators etc, should not be allowed,"
"Emphasis should be given to employment of locally available labour force to address the socio-economic concerns of the locals,'' the document stated.
The court after perusing the document noted that the content of the plaintiffs that they should carry the construction material from the mine site to any part of the valley does not hold good in view of the restrictions imposed by the J&K Environment Impact Assessment Authority on the Environment clearance given in favour of defendants No. 2 & 3 (Danish Yousuf of Pulwama and Rouf Ahmad of Awantipora).
It recorded that the plaintiffs have come up with a suit to nullify the stipulations laid down by the J&K EIAA and the prayer asked for by the plaintiffs goes against the basic mandate of law.
"This needs to be kept in mind that there is an express and specific embargo not to carry the construction material beyond a radius of 2 Kms from the mine site, how come the plaintiffs can be permitted to transport the construction material from mine site to different parts of the valley," it asked.
The court noted that mischief or inconvenience is likely to arise in case relief of injunction is granted, as the circumstances justify that granting of injunction shall cause more mischief then withholding it.
Prima facie, the court said, the plaintiffs have no case to seek injunction against the Doodh Ganga Tipper Owners Association as the plaintiffs seek relief which is to supplement the content of the plaintiffs that the ecological balance of the area in question shall get distressed by the illegal acts of the plaintiffs.
"I am of the considered opinion that none of the legal rights of the plaintiffs shall get infringed in case relief prayed for is not granted as the plaintiffs have to show that there has been invasion of their legal rights which being the condition precedent for grant of temporary injunction. This fact cannot be brushed aside that the suit is not maintainable in the peculiar circumstances of the case, as a result thereof the question of temporary injunction does not arise," the judge said while dismissing the plea.