The Gauhati High Court stated that the government should ensure that illegal mining activities are not carried out within the State of Assam which is home to the pristine forests which are virtually the lungs of the earth.
Chief justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Suman Shyam stated,” Be that as it may, undisputedly it is the obligation of MoEF (ministry of environment and forest) & CC (climate change) in collaboration with the State Government to ensure that illegal mining activities are not carried out within the State of Assam which is home to the pristine forests which are virtually the lungs of the earth”
The court added, “we direct that the concerned officials of the Central Government, in collaboration with the responsible officers of the Assam State Government, shall ensure that the mining activities being undertaken by the Coal India Ltd. shall not be allowed unless the conditions mentioned in the afore quoted letter are satisfied. Immediate steps shall also be taken to ensure that all illegal mining activities in the area in question are stopped forthwith.”
The petitioner has tried to highlight the depleting forest in the Saleki Proposed Reserve Forest under Digboi division and the illegal mining activities being carried out in this area.
D.K. Das submitted that as the Central Government itself has observed that the user agency, i.e. the Coal India Ltd. is continuing the mining operation even after expiry of the original lease period, it should be restrained from carrying out the mining operation in violation of the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 till all penalties and compensatory levis are deposited and Stage II approval for the project is granted by MoEF & CC.
R.K.D. Choudhury, learned Deputy Solicitor General of India submitted that as a matter of fact, the Coal India Ltd. has stopped its mining activities in the reserved forest areas and the mining activities are actually being carried out by other persons/ entities.