New Delhi, Nov 6 : The Supreme Court on Friday said the auction of mines in Jharkhand for commercial mining — which includes any subsequent order of licence, lease etc. — will be subject to final orders of the top court and the bid allocation will be provisional.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal assured a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde that in the meantime no trees will be cut and no mining will start. The response from the Attorney General came on a query put forth by senior advocate Fali S. Nariman, representing the Jharkhand government, that no trees should be cut in the meantime.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also appearing for the Jharkhand government, informed the top court that the auctioning is in the final stage.
He added that the respondent (Centre) will inform the recipient of any benefit that the matter is provisional and subject to orders from this court.
On November 4, during the hearing of the Jharkhand government’s original suit against the Centre’s decision to auction coal blocks in the state, the Supreme Court had said it wants to ensure that forests are not destroyed due to mining as there isn’t any economic value in forests, instead it is in timber. The Chief Justice emphasised that the court’s only concern is that resources should not be depleted forever.
A bench headed by the Chief Justice noted that it is thinking of setting up an expert committee to assess the impact of mining in coal blocks near eco-sensitive regions in the state. The Chief Justice told the counsel of the state government and the Attorney General, representing the Centre, “You don’t put an economic value on forest. You put it on timber. We don’t want to stop the development of country in anyway, but forest is a natural wealth, which cannot be eroded either.”
The bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian orally observed that the court might stay the auction process of coal blocks slated for November for a month till the expert committee submits a report in the matter.