Punjab Government proposal rejected by environment authority
After the Punjab and Haryana High Court put a stay on the Punjab government’s mining policy, SEIAA (State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Punjab.) has also become a noose for the department of Mines and Geology Punjab on the subject of mining. As per the latest report, SEIAA not only refused the proposal of the department but also rebuked the department as they were asking SEIAA to help them in contempt of Supreme Court orders.
The department of Mines and Geology is in a fix again. The department is seeking solutions to get environmental clearances from the SEIAA by any means so that unmeasured mining can be done without doing the District Survey report.
As per rules, DSR is essential for mining in which pre-monsoon and post-monsoon data are recorded. The Department is asking SEIAA to ignore the Post-Monsoon replenishment report and grant environmental clearance to them.
The Department of Mines and Geology, vide Memo no. 1042-44 dated 5.09.2022, has requested SEIAA to consider the following proposals:
- For the purpose of obtaining environment clearances for out of river bed mines included in the District Survey Reports, the SEIAA may consider the approval of DSRs which shall have the complete data of out of river bed mines as per the 2020 Guidelines, along with the river bed mines whose data has been collected during the pre-monsoon survey with approximate quantities of mineable material, subject to the condition that final reserve estimation for auction of river bed mines shall be updated in the DSRs after the post-monsoon survey.
- To transfer the valid environment clearances of the mines in the name of concerned XEN-cum-District Mining Officers who’s ECs were originally granted by the SEIAA/MOEF&CC in the name of the department.
- To transfer the valid environment clearances of the mines in the name of concerned XEN-cum-District Mining Officers who’s ECs were originally granted by the SEIAA/MOEF&CC in the name of the contractor.
SEIAA observed on the first point that the request of the Mining Department to provisionally approve interim DSRs minus the post-monsoon replenishment studies (in order to facilitate issuing of ECs for non-river bed mining areas on the basis of the interim DSRs) is not permissible as the replenishment studies are an integral part of the DSRs.
For the second proposal SEIAA therefore decided that before taking further action in the matter, the Mining Department should be asked to clarify why it is seeking the transfer of ECs in its name when the actual sand mining operations are to be conducted by third-party contractors and the grant of ECs in the name of the Mining Department would prima facie amount to contempt of the Supreme Court orders.
For the third point, SEIAA stated that the issues in the matter being similar to those in para (b) above, SEIAA decided that a similar clarification be sought from the Mining Department as to why the transfer of EC was being requested in the name of the Department when, as per the 71 Supreme Court directions dated 28.10.2013 in SLP (C) No 729-31 of 2011, ECs are required to be in the name of the project proponents (contractors) who will actually be undertaking the mining operations.