Rural Litigation And Entitlement Kendra & Ors vs State Of U.P. & Ors on 12 March 1985
1985 AIR 652, 1985 SCR (3) 169
- The Mussoorie hill chain of the Himalayas includes Doon Valley. The Doon Valley had a lot of resources. Several rivers originate in the Mussoorie hills, completing the valley region’s natural flourishing. However, in the 1950s, it became a district for limestone mining, and the valley began to degrade as a result of the use of explosives, tree cutting, and severe mining.
- Between 1955 and 1965, the Doon valley’s limestone mining methods grew more dispersed. The detonation was used to remove minerals, which resulted in a lack of flora in the valley.
- Landslides, floods, water scarcity, high temperatures, and agricultural obliteration had robbed the valley of its natural beauty by the early 1980s.
- The Uttar Pradesh State Minister of Mines outlawed mining in the state in 1961. However, in 1962, the state government approved several mining licenses for 20 years, and quarrying resumed. When leases for regeneration were available in 1982, the state banned them due to environmental damage. Mining firms have petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the government’s decision. The Allahabad high court approved mining in the Doon valley, favoring economic gain above environmental concerns.
- In 1983, a local Dehradun NGO, the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) filed a protest letter with the Supreme Court against India’s environmental poverty. This complaint was filed as a writ petition with the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.
- The Supreme Court ordered that all present mining operations in the valley be evaluated. The court also ordered the state government to create a database for the region’s agriculture.
The following were the issues that the Hon’ble Supreme Court examined in this case:
- Whether the Forest Conservation Act of 1980[iii] would be applicable to lease renewal procedures? Mining leases were resolved in 1962, and forest conservation legislation was passed in 1980.
- Is it true that mining on government lands violated the Forest Conservation Act? The legislation prohibits non-forest operations on forest property that are not sanctioned by the federal authorities.
- Is it true that environmental protection should take precedence over national economic assistance?
Contentions of the Petitioner
The petitioners objected to this-
- Environmental degradation in Doon Valley would obstruct because the case had already commenced before the statute of limitations had been established, and significant testaments, evidence, and other orders had already been given.
- Respondents claimed that mining activities were carried out in accordance with the Mining Act of 1952 and other applicable laws. The Bhargava committee was chosen by the court to investigate the details. Following the Bhargava committee’s recommendation, the court ordered that the most dangerous mines in Mussoorie City be shut down.
- The court then appointed a second committee (the Bandyopadhyay Committee) in 1985 to evaluate the prior committee’s report. The help for exaggerated valley dwellers was also proposed by this committee. After analyzing environmental poverty, the court allowed some mining companies to operate in the valley. Because the environmental impact was less obvious, a significant operation owned by the state of Uttar Pradesh may also continue to operate.
At the same time as the Supreme Court took up the case, the Central Government became concerned about the Valley’s important mining activities.
In the year 1983, The Government of India assigned a Working Group to evaluate the limestone inquiry in the Dehradun-Mussoorie zone in the Dehradun Valley Litigation case. D.N. Bhargava, the same person who judged both the government’s Working Group and the court’s committee, came to the same judgment about the mines’ environmental impact.
The Working Group also prepared court reports on the limited mining activities that were allowed to continue. Parliament ratified the Environment Protection Act in 1986, during the dispute.
The Valley was thereafter designated as an organically sensitive area under the Environmental Protection Act. In addition, the center appointed a Doon Valley Board, which was tasked with conserving and repairing contaminated parts of the Valley under the supervision of the Minister for Environment and Forests.
The Forest Conservation Act was violated by mining in designated woods in the Dehradun valley, according to the Supreme Court. The Forest Conservation Act, on the other hand, only prohibits non-forest activities on forest areas that are not approved by the Central Government.
The Supreme Court was concerned about the well-being of mine operators and employees who were left unpaid by the termination of the Dehradun Valley activities, in addition to ecological honesty and national interests. [iv]
The following instructions were given by the Court:
- Mine lessees whose activities were halted by the court will be granted first preference for leases in newly opened limestone mining regions, according to court orders.
- Orders that the central department of Environment’s Eco-Task Force recover and reforest the mining-damaged area, and that employees displaced by mine closure be given first preference for jobs with the Eco-Task Force’s operations in the region.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to a healthy environment as a basic right. Mechanization leads to development, which in turn contributes to environmental poverty. The philosophy of maintainable development has been proposed as a solution to this problem.
To put it another way, there must be a balance between development and the environment. On the issue of national interest, environmental deterioration is not acceptable.
Administrative and legislative policies for consistent environmental and developmental principles should be articulated in accordance with the country’s socio-economic needs.
Courts have a critical role in establishing the scope of administrative authorities and goals, as well as striking a balance between the environment and growth. The pressing requirement is to establish a balance between the two, namely, growth on the one hand and pollution-free environments on the other.
A method for maintaining group development by increasing the superiority of human existence while living in peace with nature and preserving the carrying capacity of the secondary eco-system. Its major focus is on incorporating developmental and environmental requirements. As a result, the only solution is sustainable development, and administrative measures must follow suit.