CASE ANALYSIS OF M.C MEHTA VS. UNION OF INDIA AIR 1996 BY PRACHI SHARMA

M.C MEHTA (Badhkal and Surajkund Lakes Matter)

Vs

UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS

SUBJECT – This case is based upon the interpretation of Section – 3 of Environmental Protection Act, 1986. It highlights the fact that environment may be polluted on account of mining operations. It also shows that the closure of mine is the only solution for the removal of pollution.

REFERENCE – AIR 1996 S.C.1977

BENCH – N.P. Singh, Kuldip Singh JJ

FACTS OF THE CASE

  1. M.C. Mehta, an environmentalist advocate has filed a public interest petition before Supreme Court of India U/Art. 32 seeking a direction to the Haryana Pollution Control Board to control the pollution caused by the stone-crushers, pulveriser and mine operators in the Faridabad- Balabhgarh area.
  2. The main question which came for the consideration of Supreme Court in this case was as to whether to preserve environment and control pollution-the mining operations should be stopped within the radius of five kilometers from the tourist resorts of Badhkal lake and Suraj Kund in the State of Haryana.
  3. Their Lordships of Supreme Court by their order dated 2-11-1995 directed the Board to inspect and ascertain the impactof mining operations on the ecologically sensitive area of Badhkal Lake and Suraj Kund. The inspection was done by a team of the Board comprising of Dr. B. Sen Gupta senior scientist, Shri Lalit Kapoor senior environmental engineer and others. The inspection report of the Board was placed before the Supreme Court.
  4. The above team of the Board’s gave his recommendations as under –
  • Environmental Management Plan (EMP) should be prepared by mine lease holder for their mines and actual mining operations made operative after obtaining approval from the Sate Govt. of Environmental Ministry or Haryana State Pollution Control Board.
  • The EMP should be implemented following a time bound action plan. Land reclamation and afforestation programs shall also be included in the EMP and must be implemented strictly by the implementing authorities.
  • Mining activities should be stopped within a radius of 5km from Badhkal Lake and Suraj Kund.
  • At present mining activities are going on without obtaining the consent as required under the AIR Act, 1981. Mine lease holders shall take appropriate steps to obtain consent in this regard.
  • The mine owners should adhere strictly to mine safety plan and install all necessary devices.
  • The over burden along with top soil should be properly preserved for use at the time of reclamation of abandoned mine.
  • Use of explosives in the mines should be regulated as per Explosive Act and after obtaining approval from the competent authorities.

The Badhkal Lake and Suraj Kund are monsoon fed water bodies. The natural drainage pattern of the surrounding hill areas feed these water bodies during rainy season. The mining may also cause fractures and cracks in the surface, rock layer causing disturbance to the aquifer which are the source of ground water. This may disturb the hydrology of the area.

DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT-

Their Lordships of Supreme Court allowed the writ petition subject to directions as given above in the form of recommendations by the team of the Board.

PRINCIPLES OF THE LAW LAID DOWN-

  1. The pollution is caused due to mining operations.
  2. The mine lease holders are required to obtain permission from the Control Board before starting the work in future.

 

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