Gujarat’s no-objection clause for industries near sanctuaries questioned

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

GANDHINAGAR - A Gujarat government notification which makes it compulsory to secure a no-objection certificate for industry or mining in a five-km belt around a sanctuary has come under the scanner of the state high court.

The high court has sought an explanation from the government for issuing a notification which is contrary to the directions of the Supreme Court on the issue. The apex court had directed that a one-kilometre area surrounding wildlife sanctuaries and national parks should be treated as eco-fragile area in the absence of any statute and be barred for any mining activity or granting of temporary work permits.

A single judge bench of Justice R.R. Tripathi pulled up the government counsel and asked the additional chief secretary of the forests and environment department to file an affidavit on the subject.

He also sought to know from the government how many temporary work permits have been issued for such purposes by the departments concerned in the areas around the 26 sanctuaries/national parks across the state.

The Gujarat government had issued a notification in 2008 making it compulsory for everyone to obtain no objection certificate before grant of permission to carry out mining or establish an industry in non-forest area land (revenue land) within a radius of five km from the boundary of a national Park, sanctuary or reserve.

For Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctuary, the limit was 10 km.

The matter came before the court when Param Udhyog, which has a license and lease for mining near Palanpur-Ambaji road, approached it claiming that it was not issued no-objection certificate even after producing all relevant documents.

Its counsel Amit Panchal said Tuesday that following the petition, the government denied them the NOC referring to the Supreme Court’s directions of 2006.

Hearing the case, Justice Tripathi observed: “Environment is not merely a statutory issue. Environment is one of the facets of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Environment is, therefore, a matter directly under the Constitution and if the court perceives any project or activity as harmful or injuries to the environment it would feel obliged to step in.”

The matter is slated to come up on Feb 10.

Such issues have been engaging the attention of the court after Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Jethwa was killed allegedly for bringing the issue of illegal mining in the vicinity of the lion sanctuary of Sasan Gir to the fore.

The court has already directed the state government to form committees to curb the malaise and hold the officers concerned responsible if such mining takes place.

Filed under: Court, Immigration

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