The Uttarakhand High Court recently banned mechanized mining in riverbeds in the State.

The Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe stated that "In the light of the aforesaid, we restrain all the lessees who are operating their respective mining lease in the State of Uttarakhand in river beds and other water bodies, from undertaking mining activities by resort to use of mechanical means."

In this case, the PIL was preferred by a resident of Haldwani, seeking issuance of directions to the State authorities to take immediate and effective steps to stop mechanized mining in the rivers/water bodies in the State of Uttarakhand, except for flood management during rains.

Advocate Dushyant Mainali appeared for the petitioner and submitted that the rampant unscientific and unregulated mechanized river bed mining was being done in the rivers of the State of Uttarakhand and further pointed out that the royalty paid by the State agency (respondent no.4), which was legally doing manual mining on the river beds in the State was much higher than the royalty paid by the private lessees, thereby made the mining carried out by the state agency financially unviable.

The Advocate for the petitioner also referred to the decision taken by the Forest Advisory Committee of the Central Government which had permitted mining on the river beds, by only permitting manual means, i.e. by using hand tools in the State of Uttarakhand strictly, and without adoption of mechanical means and machinery and further contended that the private lessees had indulged in illegal mining in contravention of the relevant rules and norms and had violated the said directions unabashedly.

Additional Chief Standing Counsel Anil K. Bisht appeared for the State and Advocates Lalit Sharma and V.K. Kapruwan appeared for the respondent.

The Court directed the District Magistrates in all the districts, who are the Chairpersons of the Mining Task Force, to ensure that all mechanical equipments used for mining in the river beds were removed and confiscated from the site of the mining and that strict vigil was kept to ensure compliance of the directions issued.

The Court further directed the respondents to file their respective counter-affidavits, to disclose as to why higher royalty was charged from respondent no.4 as compared with the royalty charged from the private lessees.

Accordingly, the Court directed to file counter affidavits by January 12, 2023.

Cause Title- Gagan Parashar v. State of Uttarakhand

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