The Tamil Nadu government has informed the Madras High Court that since it is opening new sand quarries the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has been sought to depute a team of experts to inspect the quarries before issuing environmental clearance to avoid challenges in court that the clearance is based on mere documents without any inspection.
Based on this, the bench directed SEIAA, to file its response on the said communication in the form of a counter affidavit on November 13 as such a move would avoid any kind of controversies or challenges, post issuance of environmental clearance.
The bench was passing interim orders on a plea pertaining to a mining site located within 10 kms of Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary near Thanjavur. On finding that the quarry was clearly 8.3 km away from the core area and was functioning without permission from National Board for Wildlife, the Public Works Department stopped the quarrying operation from May 18, 2019 until further orders.
Subsequently, a decision was taken to halt the quarrying operation permanently by considering the floods in River Kollidam. However, the petitioner’s counsel A Yogeshwaran submitted that despite the prohibition of quarrying between May 2019 and February 2020, the same has not been implemented. This would result in ecological and environmental disaster and hence the court ought to order considerable compensation, he said. To this, bench held “This Court is of the prima facie view that unless the conditions stipulated in SEIAA are fully complied with, the quarrying operations cannot commence.” “In case of any default in complying with the conditions laid down by SEIAA, this Court is entitled to award compensation/penalty to put an halt to the alleged unauthorised or illegal quarrying. This Court also had opined that unless such measures are taken, the damages caused to the environment and ecology would not be fully set right,” the bench led by Justice Satyanarayanan said.