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Don't force us to take coercive action, SC tells Rajasthan in Aravalli illegal mining case

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

"Don't force us to take coercive action against you," the on Friday told the government, which sought time for completing the ground truthing exercise of in Aravalli areas.

The ground truthing exercise is conducted to ascertain the empirical evidence at the

The top court said there has been lethargy on part of concerned authorities in completing the task in compliance with the apex court order.

It restrained from Modha Pahad area of district in and directed the authorities to forthwith stop all the excavations going on.

A bench of Justices and asked the government to furnish all the relevant details of operational leases for and names of persons responsible for the destruction of environment by February 15.

"Don't force us to take any coercive action against you. You have not completed the work as directed by the court. Earlier, you have said that ground truthing exercise will be completed within three months. There is lethargy on part of concerned authorities. This work needs to be completed by March 4 otherwise we will hold for sheer contempt," the bench told the who was present in the court room.

The top court is dealing with a matter related to alleged activities in the Aravalli range.

The court asked senior C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for the to file compliance report by March 13 and listed the matter for further hearing on March 21.

Vaidyanathan said that due to Assembly elections in state, the work was not completed and now Lok Sabha polls were also approaching.

"We want each and every detail of mining. When were the leases granted and by what time these leases are expiring. Which leases are operational and which are closed," the bench said.

Vaidyanathan said 24 leases were granted in the area and out of them five were closed for violation of norms and 13 were operational.

The bench after perusing the status report said that the leases which are operational have also been found to be violating the environmental norms.

"Under the guise of mining, illegal activities are taking place and encroachments are made," the bench said.

The senior said leases are being cancelled, if anyone is found to be breaching the conditions.

To this, the bench expressed unhappiness with the functioning of the and said when the was going on in violation of the court's order, then why were they not stopped.

The court also pulled up an appearing for the for a gesture he made and said "this also amounts to contempt".

On February 4, the apex court had pulled up the and said the entire was rotten and it seemed the officials were hand in glove with those who have been indulging in illegal mining in Aravalli area of the state.

It had expressed anguish over destruction of flora and fauna in the area.

The apex court had come down heavily on the after it cited the recent Assembly elections and the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as the reasons for not completing ground truthing exercise to ascertain the area where illegal mining had allegedly been conducted.

The court had directed the of the state to appear before it for an explanation.

The bench had referred to last year's October 29 order of the apex court which had noted the submissions of Rajasthan's chief secretary that approximately 27 per cent ground truthing of the area was complete and remaining work would be done within three months.

Referring to the order, the court had said, "Three-month period is over now. What have you done? You already knew that elections will be there. Why have you not completed the work? Call your chief secretary".

The had last year told the apex court that no illegal mining was going on in 115.34 hectares of land in Aravalli area of the state

The court had in October last year expressed shock over 31 "vanished" hills in the Aravalli area and had asked the state to stop illegal mining in the 115.34-hectare area.

The court had referred to a report by central empowered committee (CEC) which had said that out of 128 samples taken by the Forest Survey of (FSI), as many as 31 hills or hillocks have vanished.

The state had earlier told the court that all the government departments concerned in Rajasthan were "on the job" to stop illegal mining.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 08 2019. 20:56 IST