Chennai: The Madras high court has upheld an order of a single judge, which directed the state government to stop sand mining/quarrying in the state within six months and to permit the importers to transport and sell imported river sand from other countries.
Dismissing an appeal filed by the state government against the order of a single judge, a division bench comprising Justices K. Kalyanasundaram and T. Krishnavalli said, “This court is of the view that the appellants have not made out any case, for interference with the order of the single judge. Hence, the appeal is dismissed”.
Citing several judgments of the Supreme Court, the bench said it is clear that the courts have stepped in to protect the environment by curbing mining activity, wherever the state has failed in its duty under Article 48 A and 51 A. Also from the various reports of the authorities concerned, it is evident that the direction and the orders of the apex court and this court have been violated and the illegal mining activity has not been curbed, the bench added.
Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Kalyanasundaram said, “If the ecology is not protected, there is no doubt that it will endanger the very existence of human life and we might not even have a future generation. It is the duty of this court to ensure that environment is protected and is not subjected to degradation when the authorities have failed”.
Even after all the committee’s reports and frequent intervention of this court in many cases, the illegal mining in the state has not stopped and the same was evident from the number of cases filed in 2017 for the release of a vehicle. Under this background, when the directions issued by the single judge were examined, this court was of the view that the directions were not legislative directions, but only directions issued for non-compliance of statutory provisions and for failure to safeguard the environment and the ecology”, the bench added. The bench said it was the duty of the state to ensure that the fundamental right to life guaranteed in the Constitution was safeguarded. The maintenance of ecology by preserving the river and river beds go a long way in not only preserving them for future generations or inhabitants in the vicinity but also will have a global impact, the bench added.