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SC suggests banning e-auctions of coal mines within 50 km of J'khand eco-sensitive zones

SC suggests banning e-auctions of coal mines within 50 km of Jkhand eco-sensitive zones

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it intends to pass an order that any proposed mining block within the 50-kilometre radius of an eco-sensitive zone will not be e-auctioned for commercial purposes in Jharkhand.

Maintaining that it only wants to ensure that "forests are not destroyed," the top court also said it was mulling over setting up of an expert committee to examine whether an area near the proposed mining sites in Jharkhand qualifies to be an eco-sensitive zone.

The Central government, however, vehemently opposed the suggestion of the top court saying in states like Goa, the mining would become impossible, if distance parameter is applied.

The top court observed that it may stay the e-auction of coal blocks at other places of the country if it is brought to the notice of the court that the area is close enough to the eco-sensitive zone.

The remark was made by the top court which was hearing Jharkhand government's pleas challenging the Centre's decision to auction coal blocks for commercial mining.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian granted time till Friday to Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for Centre, to bring more facts related to Jharkhand's pleas and other aspects before it.

"We intend to pass orders that any proposed mining block near the 50-kilometre radius of the eco-sensitive zone in Jharkhand will not be allowed to be e-auctioned," the bench told Venugopal.

It said the court is not at all sure about the intention of Jharkhand but "we only want to ensure that the forests are not destroyed".

The bench added that Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren seems to be very enthusiastic about the issue but it should be clear that even he will not be able to take advantage of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act.

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