Petition by quarry owners in Supreme Court adjourned to June 29
The All Kerala River Protection Committee has joined as a party in a case in the Supreme Court of India between the State of Kerala, quarry owners from the state and the National Green Tribunal, which is to be brought up for hearing on June 29.
T.V.Rajan, State secretary of the committee, said that the committee supported the tribunal in the case in connection with its three-month-old order stating that there should be at least 200 metres of distance between a quarry and the nearest house.
The issue began with a group of local people in Muthalamada, Palakkad, organising a signature campaign against a quarry in their locality and forwarding it with a petition to the Prime Minister, with supporting documents, asking to put an end to the threat posed by the quarry to their homes. A copy of the same was forwarded to the National Green Tribunal as well, based on which the tribunal suo motu registered a case. The reports from various State Pollution Control Boards were analysed in the hearing, revealing that all States maintained a safe distance of 200 metres to 300 metres between quarries and houses, while only Kerala had set it at 50 metres. Hence, the tribunal ordered the State to ensure a distance of 200 metres in this regard.
However, the quarry owners questioned this in the Kerala High Court, which altered the judgment that the order of the tribunal could be applicable only to new quarries and also those renewing their licences. With the licences of most quarries set to expire on March 31, 2021, the government soon extended them for a year, thus providing the quarry owners some breathing time.
Meanwhile, the quarry owners filed a petition at the Supreme Court questioning the authority of the National Green Tribunal in taking up an issue based on a complaint to the Prime Minister. The petition was brought up for hearing on May 7 and was adjourned to June 29.
“The government has joined hands with the quarry owners in this case and there are chances that they would be able to undermine the authority of the tribunal. The group from Muthalamada is also a party in this case, but not strong enough. Hence, the All Kerala River Protection Committee has joined the case in support of the tribunal to strengthen the side”, Mr. Rajan said.
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