Case Title: Vinoy Kumar Singh v/s The Union of India (CWJC-9591/2021)
The Patna High Court Disposed of Lessee’s PIL in respect of carrying out Mining Activities & directed lessee to approach the proper authority.
The division bench of the Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Partha Sarthy observed that that so far as the hillocks ie Lomas and Yogyawallakya are concerned, even though, as per the affidavit filed by the ASI, no significant archaeological and historical antiquity was found, nevertheless, it has categorically been stated that local traditions highlight the religious significance of the hillocks through mythological narrations.
In the year 2021, a PIL was filed by an ex-Mukhiya Rajauli, District-Nawada to take necessary action to protect the environment and the ecosystem surrounding hillocks named Lomas and Yogyawallakya which have religious, cultural, and historical importance and have temples and caves in existence; To conduct a survey with respect to the land in Rajauli, District-Nawada as a heritage and protected site; To restrain the Department of Mines and Geology as well as the District Administration from leasing out the land and ensure that no mining activity is carried out in the future in the vicinity of the hillocks.
It was the case of the petitioner that recently, since the year 2007, the respondents have allowed mining and stone quarrying activities on the hillocks in question in complete disregard to its historical and religious importance as also the adverse impact it is having on the wildlife, ecosystem and biodiversity of the areas.
On behalf of the Mines Department it has been stated that the hillocks/places in question do not find mention nor stand notified as ancient historical places under the Bihar Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites, Remains and Art Treasures Act, 1976. Thus, mining cannot be said to be illegal nor is there any contravention of the Rules.
The Koderma Wildlife Sanctuary was notified under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The same was under the Gaya Forest Division.
The bench observed that since the land in question was between Rajauli Forest Zone and Koderma Forest Zone, the land is situated within 3.5 km of the protected forest namely, Baghmari, and thus mining activity could not be permitted in view of the pronouncements of the Supreme Court in the case of T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India & Ors.
“As of now no mining activities can be carried out and the mining lessees cannot seek for furtherance of their lease granted. The consequences arising from such prohibition and the rights and liabilities arising from the grant of the lease and the subsequent cancellation could be agitated by the respective parties in an appropriate proceeding; which we make no observation at all”, the court said.