‘It will not do for State to merely report illegal mining activities have been stopped’
It will not do for the State to merely report that illegal mining activities undertaken by certain persons have been stopped. For it to be a deterrent to future intruders, the State has to realise due compensation from perpetrators of illegal mining not only for the financial loss caused to the public exchequer but also for desecration of ecology and biodegradation, the Madras High Court has said.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu made the observations while passing interim orders on a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate C. Prabhu complaining about illegal stone quarrying activities taking place in Kallakuruchi district. He complained that several miners in the district were operating beyond the licensed areas to indiscriminately carry away precious minerals.
However, the government reported to the court that criminal cases had been booked under Section 376 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code and also under the mines and minerals laws against the illegal miners. Not satisfied with such action, the first Division Bench insisted that the perpetrators must be made to pay for the crime committed by them and that they must also compensate for harm caused to ecology.
“It calls for some serious action from the State and not merely a knee-jerk reaction to suddenly wake up and stop the illegal mining activities at the prodding of the court. It is only fair that a person who has indulged in illegal mining for a considerable period before being caught, should be made to pay, including for the harm done to the environment and ecology as a consequence of the illegal activities,” the Bench wrote.
The judges kept the PIL petition pending for four more weeks to assess whether serious and punitive measures would be taken by the State against the illegal miners and ordered that a plan of action against the relevant entities must be placed before the court by then.
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