Uttarakhand High Court Current Affairs

Uttarakhand High Court orders completed ban of mining in state

The Uttarakhand High Court has ordered a complete ban on all mining activities in the state for four months.

The court gave this order while hearing on Public Interest Litigation (PIL). It comes after a forest guard was allegedly killed by illegal miners near Corbett National Park when he had tried to stop them.

Key Facts
  • The HC bench ordered the state government to constitute a high-powered committee to look into various aspects of mining activities and find out whether mining activity should be permitted in the state at all.
  • The committee will also prepare a 50-year blueprint taking into consideration environment limits vis-a-vis mining operations and submit an interim report within four month.
  • It will also assess the damage caused to the rivers, springs, rivulets and environment and ecology of Uttrakahnd by mining and determine compensation payable to the persons affected by mining activities.
  • It will identify places to be earmarked for safe mining so that there would be no loss of revenue to the government and requirements of people can also meet at the same time.
  • Till the committee submits its report, there shall be a complete ban on mining activities, including in forest areas, rivers, rivulets and streams.
  • The HC held that Shivalik region of the Himalayas is further getting fragile by mining activities. Mining activities needs to be regulated by the state to ensure that no illegal mining is carried out.
  • It directed state government not to grant any fresh licence/mining lease/prospecting licence, in any form till the final report is furnished by the high powered committee to this court.

Comment

The HC order will stop mining in interstate rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna and also nearly 100 seasonal rivers and rivulets on foothills of the state, apart from forest areas.

Tags:

Uttarakhand HC recognise Ganga and Yamuna Rivers as living entity

The Uttarakhand High Court has recognized the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers as so-called living entities. It is for the first time any court in India has recognized a non-human as a living entity.

The two rivers are sacred for the Hindus, sustain millions of people in the country but have seen years of damage at the hands of humans.

The HC Division Bench comprising Justice Alok Singh and Justice Rajiv Sharma gave a landmark judgment while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by one Mohammad Salim in 2014.

Uttarakhand HC verdict
  • Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams are declared as legal persons [or] living persons in order to protect the recognition and the faith of society.
  • They will have the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person in order to preserve and conserve them.
  • State government failed to fulfil its responsibility regarding the rivers. Central government must constitute Ganga Management Board to look into the issue of cleaning and maintaining these rivers.
  • The Director, Namami Gange project and the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand have been charged to protect, conserve and preserve the rivers and their tributaries.

legal entities

What does it means?

In India, animals, for instance, are not considered living entities by law. Only humans are. But recognizing these rivers as a living entity, grants them new legal identity and all rights laid out in the Constitution of India. Thus, they have the right to be legally protected and not be harmed and destroyed. They also can be parties to disputes as their rights can be used to protect the interests of the rivers. It also means that if someone pollutes these rivers, the law will see it equal to harming a human being.

Interesting Facts
  • Earlier in March 2017, New Zealand Parliament passed a bill declaring 145km long Whanganui River as ‘legal person’, making it first river to get this status.
  • Ecuador was first country to recognize Rights of Nature in its Constitution adopted in September 2008. The new Ecuadorian Constitution includes a Chapter: Rights for Nature.

Tags: