Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday ordered closure of at-least five stone crushers and hot mix plants along Nallah Mawar in North Kashmir.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi also sought status about setting up the Stone Crusher Zones and policy of the State regarding extraction of minor minerals.
The direction to close the stone crushers and the hot mix plants followed perusal of a report by court Commissioners.
“The violation of various laws by the Stone Crushers and Hot Mix Plants has been highlighted by the Court Commissioners. Apart from the Units having been set up on kahcharai and Abi Awal land, the citing parameters have been violated with impunity,” the court observed and directed the Units to close down their operations forthwith and stop extraction of any minor mineral like stones etc. from the bed of Nallah Mawar.
Those ordered to be closed include M/s Fair Deal Macadam Plant and Stone Crusher, M/s Sunshine Stone Crusher, M/s G. K. Stone Crusher, M/s Imperial Stone Crusher and M/s Bismillah Stone Crusher
“The Units have completely violated the Rules governing the citing parameters for setting up the Stone Crushers/Hot Mix Plants. Therefore, the conditional stay orders passed by the Single Judge in connected writ petitions cannot be relied upon for the purposes of continuous operation of such units merely because an interim order has been issued,” the court said.
In some cases, the court said, there are no interim orders leave alone the conditional stay order. “Therefore we find no impediment in vacating the interim orders and directing the aforesaid Units to close down their operations forthwith and stop extraction of any minor mineral like stones etc. from the bed of the Nallah,” the court said and directed the Deputy Commissioners of respective Districts to ensure immediate compliance of this order and file report within one week.
The Court Commissioners, Senior Advocate R. A. Jan and advocate M. Y. Bhat submitted their report after spot inspection.
The report specifies distance of various Units from the edge of Mawar Nallah and also highlights the nature of land on which the Stone Crushers or Hot Mix Plants have been set up.
Regarding M/s G. K. Stone Crusher, M/s Fair Deal Stone Crusher and M/s Imperial Stone Crusher, Single Judges of the court had passed interim orders that the Units may operate subject to the condition that there is no legal impediment in their way.
The other issue which came up before the court pertained to the policy which was required to be framed by the State Government for setting up the Stone Crusher Zones or zones for Hot Mix Plants. Advocate General M I Qadri, pointed out that a Committee has been constituted which is headed by the Chief Secretary alongwith the Secretaries of concerned Departments.
“The Committee is debating the issue of setting up of Stone Crusher Zones/Hot Mix Plant Zones and the report is still awaited.”
Subsequently, the court directed the government to file the report within two weeks.
Another issue which came for consideration of the court pertained to the policy of the State with regard to extraction of minor minerals.
“The minor minerals which are extracted by the private parties, apparently, belong to the State. Whether they are to be sold by holding an open auction or by other acceptable method has not been clarified to us. It appears to us that there is no policy of the State and there is a free hand given to the Unit Holders to extract minor minerals from water bodies or from the hills,” the court said.
At this point, Advocate General stated that the status report with regard to the policy of the State shall also be filed and if there is no policy then the same shall be finalized in the days to come.
“Let the status report be filed within two weeks with a copy in advance to the counsel opposite,” the court said and posted the case on August 18.
The court also arrayed M/s Paramount Hot Mix Plant as a party respondent in the present proceedings following submissions by G Murtaza, counsel for the petitioners and issued notice to its proprietors.