HC nod to traditional limestone, sandstone mining in State

SHILLONG: The High Court of Meghalaya has allowed traditional excavation and transportation of limestone and sandstone in the State.
The Court, however, said that for grant of any new mining lease (excluding traditional excavation and transportation of limestone and sandstone), the State authority should seek clearance from the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SLEIAA) instead of CEC as directed in the judgment and order of the Court dated November 26, 2015.
The High Court order came on Wednesday after one Balios Swer of Khliehriat filed a petition praying to allow the petitioner to continue with the traditional mining of sandstones and limestone and transportation from the area with sparse vegetation unfit for any kind of cultivation and situated in remote hills terrain.
Acting Chief Justice T.N.K. Singh said the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (HoFF), Meghalaya, and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (T), Meghalaya, shall allow the petitioner and other similarly situated persons, who were continuing on traditional excavation and transportation of limestone and sandstone at the time of passing of the judgment and order dated June 30, 2015 to continue the traditional excavation and transportation of limestone and sandstone under the Acts, Rules and By-laws in the State of Meghalaya.
The petitioner said the entire life, culture and economy of the petitioner and also of the local population have revolved only around limestone and sandstones mining.  The petitioner and other similarly situated people are quarrying limestone from their lands and selling it to local lime kilns and other buyers and earning their livelihood.
The petitioner also said that it is the admitted case of both the parties that the land tenure system in Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts, where the land as well as the minerals underneath belongs to the land owners as per the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India, is totally unique and different from the rest of the country.

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