Minor mineral tag for limestone with rider: HC

SHILLONG, June 23: Limestone can be considered a minor mineral while issuing mining licence if it is used as a building material, the High Court of Meghalaya said on Thursday.
“A licence for mining limestone as a minor mineral may only be issued if the end-use of the product is as a building material. Surely, exporting the goods to another country will not amount to the mineral being used for building material even if the same were used for building material in the other country,” a division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W Diengdoh said while hearing a PIL filed by one Lawyerson War.
It was submitted that the petitioner has obtained a copy of a challan pertaining to limestone mining that brings to light the irregularities in such regard.
The petitioner also complained that since the institution of the present proceedings, requests made under the Right to Information Act, 2005 went unheeded. The petitioner will disclose the relevant challan and the connected documents by way of an affidavit.
The court said the source of obtaining the challan need not be disclosed, since the State will confirm whether the copy document is authentic or not.
The court maintained that the state should also ensure that the reasonable questions put to the appropriate department under the RTI Act are dealt with in accordance with law.
“While dealing with RTI queries sometimes becomes extremely tiresome and time-consuming, since the right has now been conferred, the infrastructure for the fruition of such right must be created. At any rate, the more such facts come to light, the better the existing malaise may be treated,” the court said in its order.
The court ordered that the petitioner’s supplementary affidavit should be filed within a week from date and the state’s response should be filed within a fortnight thereafter.
The petitioner reported that challans like the one produced in the court on Thursday and a copy whereof will be incorporated in the proposed supplementary affidavit are being used for persons to cite the same as a licence to export limestone to a neighbouring country although the licence issued is by treating limestone as a minor mineral.
The court directed that the state’s affidavit should deal with such aspects of the matter upon ascertaining whether any licence issued to any person for mining limestone as a minor mineral is being misused by exporting the mining mineral to any country.

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