Order of the Supreme Court regarding DSR's for mining sand in Bihar, 10/11/2021

  • 10/11/2021

Order of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of The State of Bihar & Others Vs Pawan Kumar & Others dated 10/11/2021.

The appeal filed in the SC challenged the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order, October 14, 2020 in O.A. No. 40/2020/EZ with O.A. No. 57/2020/EZ.

The NGT had directed the state of Bihar to undertake further exercise for preparation of a fresh DSR for the Banka district.

The counsel for Bihar said that the NGT had "grossly erred" in holding that unless the State Expert Appraisal Committee and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority grants approval to the District Survey Report (DSR) for the purpose of mining of sand, the same cannot be carried out. He further said that the Tribunal had erred in holding that the DSRs prepared by the state were without following the requisite procedure and without considering the relevant factors. Further, the old lessees are continuing with the mining activities by paying a meagre amount to the state government - a huge loss to public exchequer. In the alternative, he submitted that the state, at least, needs to be permitted to undertake mining activities through Bihar State Mining Corporation until the DSRs are finalized in accordance with the judgment of the Tribunal.

The Supreme Court noted that when legal mining is banned, it gives rise to "mushroom growth of illegal mining, resulting into clashes between sand mafias, criminalization   and at times, loss of human lives". Sand is required for construction of public infrastructure projects as well as public and private construction activities.

The Supreme Court withheld the NGT judgement, October 14, 2020 and directed the following:

1. The   exercise of  preparation of DSR for the purpose of mining in Bihar in all the districts shall be undertaken afresh. DSR shall be prepared by undertaking site visits and also by using modern technology. The draft DSRs shall be prepared within a period of 6 weeks

2.  While preparing DSRs and the   appraisal thereof by SEAC and SEIAA, it should be ensured that a strict adherence to the procedure and parameters laid down in the policy of January 2020 should be followed

3. Until further orders, the state government will be allowed to carry on mining activities through Bihar State Mining Corporation for which it may employ the services of the contractors.