New Delhi, March 8: Relaxing its earlier order, the Supreme Court Friday permitted temporary mining with heavy machines within 10 km of Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh Fort for a comprehensive analysis of the impact of vibrations by mechanized mining on the country’s largest fort.
The court said the 10-km area around the historic fort would be beyond one kilometre from its periphery. While permitting the use of heavy equipment for mining, the court said that there would be no blasting operations.
A bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Madan B. Lokur said the relaxation of its Jan 18, 2013 order would come into effect in ten days from Friday and would remain in force for four weeks.
Thereafter, the court said its Jan 18 order permitting only manual mining would be restored.
The court, by its Jan 18 order, had permitted the Birla Corporation Limited and other mine lease holders to “carry out mining operations manually, without the use of any kind of heavy equipment like the JCBs, earth movers etc. As the said fort is a protected monument, the ASI shall closely monitor the mining operations”.
The court by the said order had asked the Roorkee-based Central Building Research Institute, to “evaluate the effect of mining in the fort area, with any kind of manual or electric gadgets, like surface scrappers, rock breakers, etc”.
As senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for Birla Corp Limited said that the vibrations produced by the machines in the course of their operations had no impact on the historic fort, counsel Aishwarya Bhatti told the court that the impact study was conducted by operating machines at one mine only.
Bhatti said that any assessment of the impact of vibrations produced in the course of mechanized mining around the fort could only be assessed when all the machines at all the mines are operated simultaneously.
Salve contested this position and said that impact of the vibrations produced by the machines did not travel beyond 80 metres.
At this, Justice Lokur said there is a difference when one car is going on the road and when 40 cars are moving on the road simultaneously.
Rajasthan government’s Additional Advocate General Manish Singhvi told the that earlier there were 545 mines, now they are just 30.
The Birla Corporation Limited which produces Birla Cement has challenged the May 25, 2012 order of the Rajasthan High Court banning all the mining activities and blasting within 10 km from the Chittorgrah fort’s wall.
The court had directed the mine lease holders to pay a compensation of Rs.5 crore for the restoration and reclamation. Out of this, Birla Corporation Limited was directed to pay 90 percent of the amount and other mining leases holders the remaining 10 percent.