At, High Court of Karnataka
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. CHIEF JUSTICE ABHAY S. OKA & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SURAJ GOVINDARAJ
For the Petitioner: B.S. Prakash, Advocate-PH. For the Respondents: Vikram Huilgol, AGA-PH.
1. Heard the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner.2. The petitioner has been granted a quarrying lease in respect of ordinary sand for a period of five years from 10th August 2017. The petitioner is challenging the order dated 9th June 2020 passed by the Deputy Director, Department of Mines and Geology by which it was directed that:"1) No River bed sand mining be allowed in raining season i.e. 5th June to 15th October every year.2) Sand quarrying permission shall be up to a period of five years which shall be inclusive on Non-quarrying periods like raining season, flood or any natural calamities for which no extension is allowed & subsequent renewals of sand quarry lease will not be allowed."3. The submission of the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner is that the lease does not provide for prohibition on river bed sand mining activities during the monsoon. Secondly, he submitted that there is no specific rule under the Karnataka Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1994 (for short ‘the said Rules of 1994’) under which a power has been conferred on an Authority to restrict the sand mining during the monsoon.4. The learned Additional Government Advocate relies upon Clause (d) of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8V of the said Rules of 1994 and submits that the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest will have to be taken into consideration. He placed on record a complete copy of the Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 (for short 'the said Guidelines'). He also submitted that under Sub-rule 21 of Rule 31-R, it is provided that the permission granted for sand quarrying for the period of five years will be inclusive of non-quarrying periods like rainy season, flood or any natural calamities. He would, therefore, submit that as the said Guidelines laid down by the Government of India clearly provide for prohibiting the sand mining during the monsoon period, there is every justification for passing the impugned order.5. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that Clause (d) of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8V operates in a totally different field. He would, therefore, submit that the order dated 9th June 2020 is completely illegal.6. We have carefully considered the submissions. It is not in dispute that the lease granted to the petitioner is under the provisions contained in Chapter IV-B of the said Rules of 1994. Rule 31ZE provides that the provisions contained in Chapter- IIA apply to Chapter-IVB of the said Rules of 1994. As Rule 8V is in Chapter II-A, it will apply to the present case.7. Clause (d) of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8-V of the said Rules of 1994 reads thus:"8-V. Environmental protection measures in River Sand Quarrying:(1) For ensuring safety of riverbeds/its structure/adjoining areas during river sand quarrying, the following measures to be taken-"(a) …..(b) ……(c) ……(d) Sand quarrying shall be done in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest or State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, as the case may be, from time to time,." And8. The said guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest have been placed on record along with a memo by the State Government. On page 73 of the guidelines, the "standard environment conditions of sand mining" have been prescribed. Clause (10) thereof provides on that no river sand mining can be allowed in rainy season.9. As per the mandate of Clause (d) of Sub-rule (1) of Rule-8V, the sand quarrying has to be done in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The said guidelines, as stated above, provide that no river sand mining will be allowed in rainy season. Obviously, the restriction is for protecting the ecology and environment.10. The said guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest specifically lay down that river sand mining should not be allowed in the rainy season. What is rainy season is defined in the Appendix table-9 of the said guidelines. Table-9 provides that in Karnataka State, normally the monsoon is from 5th June to 15th October. That is how in the impugned order dated 9th June 2020 it is provided that no river bed sand mining will be allowed in rainy season from 5th June to 15th October.11. The legislature was conscious of the fact that period of actual quarrying operations could be affected due to rains or floods and therefore, it is provided in Sub-rule 21 of Rule 31-R of the said Rules of 1994 that the sand quarrying permissions shall be up to five years which period shall be inclusive non-quarrying periods like ra
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iny season, floods and natural calamities.12. Therefore, the impugned order imposing restriction of stopping of river bed sand mining from 5th June to 15th October 2020 cannot be faulted with. Even otherwise, considering the nature of the impugned order, this is not a fit case to interfere in equitable and discretionary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.13. The petition is accordingly rejected.14. The pending interlocutory application does not survive and is accordingly disposed of.