Court refuses to lift ban on sand mining

Mumbai, Oct 21 (IANS) The Maharashtra government suffered a setback Thursday when the Bombay High Court refused to lift a ban on sand mining in the state – a day after the ruling Democratic Front proposed a draft policy on the issue.

A division bench of Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice U.D. Salvi refused to lift the stay on sand mining, which the court imposed earlier.

On Sep 24, a division bench comprising Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice Amjad Sayyed passed an interim order banning sand mining – including by those who had licences – observing that the activity was damaging river beds and increasing threats of flood.

The court’s order came in a public interest litigation petition filed by Sagar Shramik Hatpati Walu Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit, which alleged that sand extraction was causing major environmental degradation, especially in creeks and rivers.

On Wednesday, the state cabinet approved a new sand mining policy making it mandatory for all contractors to obtain permission of village panchayats for sand mining and extraction.

On Thursday, the state’s advocate-general Ravi Kadam made a plea in the high court to lift the stay, saying the government had already finalized a policy on the issue of sand mining.

The high court ruled that it would decide on vacating the stay only after the government submitted the government resolution on the issue before it, and adjourned the hearing till Oct 25.

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