CEC report states that there are numerous violations to the Supreme Court’s order of December 4, 2006, such as the Environmental Clearances (ECs) granted to at least 156 mining leases were not placed before the Standing Committee of the NBWL. Except in six cases, the other ECs did not even stipulate that ECs are subject to clearance by the Standing Committee of NBWL. In 61 cases, ECs were granted stipulating that EC is subjected to the approval of the competent authority under the Wildlife Protection Act, even though there is no provision under the WPA for grant of approval for the mining leases located outside the National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries.
According to the Supreme Court order issued on December 4th, 2006 its states that ECs granted for mining leases holders within a distance of 10 kms from the nearby National Parks/Wildlife Sanctuaries (and also other projects) are to be placed by the MoEF before the Standing Committee of NBWL and the ECs become operative only after the same are cleared by the said Committee.
It is interesting to note that even the Parrikar government decided to violate this Supreme Court order in order to issue NOCs to Bandekar Brothers Pvt Ltd.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in its letter dated 30th May, 2011 had taken a stand that the Standing Committee National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) is the competent authority for grant of approval and consequent withdrawal of the permission for the mining lease by Goa Forest Department vide its letter dated September 23rd 2011, the concerned lessee Bandekar Brother Pvt Ltd filed a WP (C) No 633 of 2011 before the Goa Bench of Bombay High Court against the impugned order dated September 23rd 2011of the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests. From the High Court’s order dated September 17th, 2011 it is seen that the Advocate General of Goa appearing for the state of Goa made a statement before the High Court that the said impugned order shall be withdrawn and appropriate orders will be passed by the state government, within a period of one week.
Thereafter the Writ Petition was allowed to be withdrawn. The Goa government, Forest Department vide letter dated May 30th 2012 issued directions to the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to issue No Objection Certificates (NOCs) with referring the same to the NBWL or to communicate to MoEF the stand of the state government that the Chief Wildlife Warden being the statutory authority is competent to issue NOC without referring the cases to NBWL.
Here is what the Under Secretary BS Kudalkar, Under Secretary (Forests), Goa Government writes in his letter dated May 30th 2012, No: 10/587 (P)/09-10/197 to the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests states,
“As a matter of abundant caution the NOCs that were issued were based on the Buffer Zone recommendations of the Yaduvanshi Committee, as such the directions of withdrawing the NOC was not acceptable to the State Government and the same has been communicated to the MoEF vide a letter dated 13/12/2011.
It has to stated that the Government stand is very clear that the Chief Wildlife Warden being the statutory authority is competent to issue NOC after due assessment without referring the case to NBWL and the order that is being relied upon by the MoEF never directed that the NOC from the wildlife angle would not be issued without consulting NBWL and there is no specific directive in the order to the state government. More over it is for Central government to refer ECs issued by NBWL and act accordingly. NOC from wildlife angle is only one of the requirements for ECs and state government has nothing to do with the order.
The government has decided as follows and you are directed to take necessary actions accordingly;
1. To communicate to MoEF, once again, the stand taken so far by the state government.
2. To withdraw the order cancelling the NOC granted without referring the same to NBWL.
3. To grant NOCs in cases where there is no NOC granted as it is felt that NOC can only felt that NOC can only be issued or otherwise based on the advice of NBWL
GoaChronicle.com questions the state government on its stand of issuing NOCs to this particular the Bandekar Brothers Pvt Ltd in violation of the Supreme Court order which has also been pointed out in the CEC report submitted to the Supreme Court.