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National Green Tribunal
Kollidam Aaru Padhukappul Nala ... vs Union Of India Ministry Of ... on 24 February, 2014
                    BEFORE THE NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL

                           SOUTHERN REGION, CHENNAI



                             Appeal No. 64 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Someswarapuram Vivasayigal Nala
Padhukappu Sangam
Rep.by its President
B. Vikaraman
S/o. Balasubramanian
Someswarapuram
(via) Tiruvaiyauru,
Papanasam Taluk
Thanjavur District.                                             ..            Appellant

                                           and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer,
    Public Works Department/WRD
    M.K. Moopanar Road
    Thanjavur                                                                         ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.586/E/1(a)/42/2012, dated 30.11.2012 for the proposed Govidanattuchery
sand quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 43/2 to 43/3 at S.F.No.291/A of Govindanattucherry
village in Papanasam Taluk of Thanjavur District and etc., )


                             Appeal No. 65 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:


                                                                                      1
 Someswarapuram Vivasayigal Nala
Padhukappu Sangam
Rep.by its President
B. Vikaraman
S/o. Balasubramanian
Someswarapuram
(via) Tiruvaiyauru,
Papanasam Taluk
Thanjavur District.                                       ..                  Appellant

                                           and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer,
    Public Works Department/WRD
    M.K. Moopanar Road
    Thanjavur                                             .                           ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.589/E/1(a)/33/2012 dated 28.11.2012 for the proposed Veeramangudi sand
quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 42/2 to 42/5 at S.F.No.1 of Veeramangudi village in
Papanasam Taluk of Thanjavur District and etc., )


                             Appeal No. 66 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Someswarapuram Vivasayigal Nala
Padhukappu Sangam
Rep.by its President
B. Vikaraman
S/o. Balasubramanian
Someswarapuram
(via) Tiruvaiyauru,
Papanasam Taluk
Thanjavur District.                                             ..            Appellant

                                                                                      2
                                            and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer,
    Public Works Department/WRD
    M.K. Moopanar Road
    Thanjavur                                                                         ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.586/E/1(a)/42/2012 dated 30.11.2012 for the proposed Govidanattuchery
sand quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 43/2 to 43/3 at S.F.No.291/A of Govindanattucherry
village in Papanasam Taluk of Thanjavur District and etc., )


                             Appeal No. 67 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

N. Murugesan                                                    ..            Appellant

                                           and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.   The Executive Engineer,

                                                                                      3
      Public Works Department/WRD
     Sarabanga Basin Division
     Namakkal District.                                    ..
     Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.601/E/1(a)/15/2012 dated 26.10.2012 for the proposed Mohanur sand
quarry in River Cauvery at Mile 75/4 to 76/1 at S.F.No.305 of Mohanur village in
Namakkal Taluk and District and etc., )


                             Appeal No. 68 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

N. Murugesan                                                    ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer,
    Public Works Department/WRD
    Sarabanga Basin Division
    Namakkal District.                                                                ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.602/E/1(a)/15/2012 dated 05.11.2012 for the proposed Pettapalayam sand
quarry in River Cauvery at Mile 73/4 to 73/5+160 m at S.F.No.170 of Pettapalayam village
in Namakkal Taluk and District and etc.,)


                             Appeal No. 69 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

N. Murugesan                                                    ..            Appellant

                                         and

                                                                                      4
 1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer,
    Public Works Department/WRD
    Sarabanga Basin Division
    Namakkal District.                                                                ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.603/E/1(a)/15/2012 dated 05.11.2012 for the proposed Vengarai sand
quarry in River Cauvery at Mile 61/6 to 62/2+30 m at S.F.No.739 of Vengarai village in
Namakkal Taluk and District and etc.,)



                             Appeal No. 70 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

M. Baskaran                                                     ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.   The Executive Engineer
     Public Works Department/WRD

                                                                                      5
     R.C.Division
    Tiruchy.                                                                           ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.552/E/1(a)/5/2012 dated 26.10.2012 for the proposed Kallapalli sand quarry
in River Cauvery at Mile 70/1+50 m to 71/2+50 m at S.F.No.1 (part) of Kallappalli village
in Krishnarayapuram Taluk of Karur District.)



                             Appeal No. 71 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

M. Baskaran                                                     ..             Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority, 3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet, Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division
    Tiruchy.                                                                           ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.553/E/1(a)/39/2012 dated 30.11.2012 for the proposed Vaiganallur sand
quarry in River Cauvery at Mile 98/7+99/1 m at S.F.No.1/2 (part) of Vaiganallur village
in Kulithalai Taluk of Karur District.)



                             Appeal No. 72 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

M. Baskaran                                                     ..             Appellant

                                          and

                                                                                       6
 1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.




                                           7
 2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.554/E/1(a)/13/2012 dated 26.10.2012 for the proposed Rajendram sand
quarry in River Cauvery at Mile 99/6 to 100/0+100m at S.F.No.337/1 (part) of Rajendram
village in Kulithalai Taluk of Karur District.)

                             Appeal No. 73 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                      ..                  Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.   The Executive Engineer
     Public Works Department/WRD
     R.C.Division, Cantonment
     Tiruchy.                                                  ..        Respondents


(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.595/E/1(a)/40/2012 dated 30.11.2012 for the proposed Mangammalpuram


                                                                                      8
 sand quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 20/0 to 20/1 at S.F.No.217, Mangammalpuram
village in Lalgudi Taluk of Tiruchy District.)

                             Appeal No. 74 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                            ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road, Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.558/E/1(a)/23/2012 dated 08.11.2012 for the proposed Ayyampalayam
sand quarry in River Colerron at Mile 103/3+65m to 103/5+15m at S.F.No.540/2,
Ayyampalayam village in Musiri Taluk of Tiruchy District.)



                             Appeal No. 75 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                            ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary

                                                                                      9
      State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority, 3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet, Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.iver Conservancy Division,
    Court Campus, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                           ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.561/E/1(a)/25/2012 dated 28.11.2012 for the proposed Perugamani sand
quarry in River Cauvery at Mile 107/4 to 107/6+100m at S.F.No.216, Perugamani village
in Srirangam Taluk of Tiruchy District.)



                              Appeal No. 76 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                            ..             Appellant

                                          and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                           ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.566/E/1(a)/12/2012 dated 26.10.2012 for the proposed Valavanur sand
quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 11/6 to 12/1 at S.F.No.131, Valavanur village in Lalgudi
Taluk of Tiruchy District.)

                                                                                      10
                              Appeal No. 78 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

N. Danabalan                                                    ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.   The Executive Engineer
     Public Works Department/WRD
     River Cauvery Division
     Cutchery Road,
     Mayiladuthurai.

                                                                                      ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.554/E/1(a)/18/2012 dated 07.11.2012 for the proposed Mudikandanallur
sand quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 76/2 to 76/5+180m at S.F.No.369/1
Mudikandanallur village in Mayiladuthurai Taluk of Nagapattinam District



                             Appeal No. 79 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                            ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.



                                                                                     11
 2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.   The Executive Engineer
     Public Works Department/WRD
     Cauvery Basin Division
     Thanjavur -613 001.                                      ..          Respondents


(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.585/E/1(a)/8/2012 dated 26.10.2012 for the proposed Tiruchennampoondi
sand quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 21/6 to 22/1+50 m at S.F.No.1/1,
Tiruchennampoondi village in Tiruvaiyaru Taluk of Thanjavury District.)



                             Appeal No. 80 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                               ..         Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.569/E/1(a)/9/2012 dated 26.10.2012 for the proposed Thiurmanamedu

                                                                                     12
 andd quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 13/6 to 14/1 at S.F.No.161, Thirumanamedu village
in Lalgudi Taluk of Tiruchy District.)




                                                                                     13
                              Appeal No. 81 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                            ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority, 3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road, Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.566/E/1(a)/35/2012 dated 28.11.2012 for the proposed Appathurai sand
quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 9/7-10/2+100 m at S.F.No.135, Appathurai village in
Lalgudi Taluk of Tiruchy District.)



                             Appeal No. 82 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                            ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
      State Level Environment Impact Assessment
      Authority, 3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
      No.1, Jeenis Road
                                                                                     14
      Saidapet, Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.565/E/1(a)/36/2012       dated    28.11.2012        for    the     proposed
Sevanthinathapuram sand quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 14/6 to 15/1 at S.F.No.110,
Sevanthinathapuram village in Lalgudi Taluk of Tiruchy District.)



                             Appeal No. 83 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                            ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.557/E/1(a)/21/2012 dated 07.11.2012 for the proposed Amoor sand quarry
in River Cauvery at Mile 106/5+50m to 106/7+30m at S.F.No.131, Amoor village in Musiri
Taluk of Tiruchy District.)

                             Appeal No. 84 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

                                                                                     15
 M. Baskaran                                                    ..            Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C. Division
    Tiruchy.                                                                         ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.550/E/1(a)/41/2012 dated 30.11.2012 for the proposed Nerur South sand
quarry in River Cauvery at Mile 79/4+50m to 79/5m at S.F.No.2596/B of Nerur South
village in Karur Taluk of Karur District.)

                             Appeal No. 85 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                      ..                 Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.   The Executive Engineer

                                                                                    16
     Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.567/E/1(a)/34/2012 dated 28.11.2012 for the proposed Koohur sand quarry
in River Coleroon at Mile 19/0 to 19/3 at S.F.No.144, Koohur village in Lalgudi Taluk of
Tiruchy District.)

                              Appeal No.86 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                      ..                  Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.566/E/1(a)/22/2012 dated 09.11.2012 for the proposed Natham sand quarry
in River Cauvery at Mile 86/5+40m to 86/7 at S.F.No.383, Natham village in
ThottiamTaluk of Tiruchy District.)

                             Appeal No. 87 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

M. Baskaran.                                              ..                  Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India

                                                                                     17
      Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.   The Executive Engineer
     Public Works Department/WRD
     R.C.Division
     Tiruchy.                                             ..
     Respondents

(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.549/E/1(a)/7/2012 dated 26.10.2012 for the proposed Nanniyur sand quarry
in River Cauvery at Mile 70/7+50m to 71/2+150m at S.F.No.539 of Nanniyur village in
Karur Taluk of Karur District.)

                             Appeal No. 88 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

M. Baskaran                                               ..                  Appellant

                                         and
1.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

2.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

3.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents

                                                                                     18
 (Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.548/E/1(a)/4/2012 dated 26.10.2012 for the proposed Achammapuram
(Tirumukkudalur) sand quarry in River Cauvery at Mile 80/2+100m to 80/6+25m at
S.F.No.265/1 of Achammapuram (Tirumukkudalur) village in Karur Taluk of Karur
District.)



                             Appeal No. 89 of 2013 (SZ)

In the matter of:

Kollidam Aaru Padhukappu Nala Sangam                            ..            Appellant

                                         and
4.   The Union of India
     Rep. by its Secretary to Government
     Ministry of Environment and Forests
     2-A, Motilal Nehru Marg,
     New Delhi- 110 011.

5.   The Member Secretary
     State Level Environment Impact Assessment
     Authority
     3rd Floor, Panagal Maligai
     No.1, Jeenis Road
     Saidapet
     Chennai- 600 015.

6.  The Executive Engineer
    Public Works Department/WRD
    R.C.Division, Cantonment
    Tiruchy.                                                                          ..
Respondents


(Praying to quash the Environmental Clearance given by the 2 nd respondent in Letter No.
SEIAA/TN/F.568/E/1(a)/24/2012 dated 08.11.2012 for the proposed Edayathumangalam
sand quarry in River Coleroon at Mile 15/4 to 16/2+100 m at S.F.No.160/6,
Edayathumangalam village in Lalgudi Taluk of Tiruchy District.)


Counsel appearing for Appellants: M/s. T. Mohan, S. Devika, A, Yogeshwaran, and R.
NandakumarAdvocates in Appeal Nos. 64-69, 71-83, 85,86,89 of 2013 (SZ); M/s. K. Balu
and M.R. Elangovan, Advocates in Appeal Nos. 70, 84, 87,88/ 2013 (SZ)

Respondents in all the Appeals: Shrimathi C. Sangamithirai, Advocate for Respondent
No.1, Shri N.R. Chandran, Senior Advocate assisted by Shri L.G. Sahadevan, Advocate

                                                                                     19
 for Respondent No. 2. Shri A.L. Somayaji, Advocate General, Government of Tamil Nadu
assisted by M/s. Abdul Saleem, Special Government Pleader, S. Saravanan and
Shrimathi Vidhyalakshmi, Advocates. for Respondent No. 3.




                                                                                  20
                                     JUDGEMENT

Present:

(1) Hon'ble Shri Justice M. Chockalingam, Judicial Member (2) Hon'ble Prof. Dr. R. Nagendran, Expert Member Date: 24th February, 2014 (Hon'ble Shri Justice M. Chockalingam, Judicial Member) These appeals have been filed against the grant of Environmental Clearance (for short, EC) issued by the 2nd respondent, namely the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (for short, SEIAA), Tamil Nadu in the relevant orders to the Executive Engineers of the Water Resources Department of the State Public Works Department who are arrayed as 4th respondent in each appeal for quarrying operation in River Cauvery and River Coleroon, as the case may be, in Thanjavur and Tiruchy Districts of Tamil Nadu. During the course of hearings, the 3 rd respondent, namely the Chief Conservator of Forests (Central), Bangalore was given up as not a necessary party. All these appeals have been preferred against the EC granted by the 2 nd respondent to the 4th respondent for quarrying operation on a common ground and hence are all taken up together for adjudication by a common order.

2. The case of the appellants in the appeals is briefed below:

The Hon'ble Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in W.P. (MD).No.4699 of 2012 directed to stop the operation of sand quarries in operation for more than 5 years in the river bed and the remaining quarries were permitted to operate for a period of 3 months from the date of order with further directions that the newly opened quarries should obtain EC from the SEIAA. In compliance of the said directions of the Hon'ble High court, the 4th respondent applied for EC for quarrying sand in the river beds of Cauvery and Coleroon in Thanjavur and Tiruchy Districts through specific orders of the 21 2nd respondent. The Environmental Impact Assessment (for short, EIA) Notification dated 14th September 2006 of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (for short, MoEF) has classified mining projects with more than 5 ha and less than 50 ha as 'B' category for which it is mandatory to obtain EC from the 2nd respondent. However, for projects falling under A category, the clearance has to be given by the MoEF, the 1st respondent herein. The mining projects coming under 'B' category have been further sub divided as 'B1' and 'B2' categories and for categorization of projects as 'B1' and 'B2' categories, the MoEF has to issue appropriate guidelines from time to time as per the EIA Notification, 2006. In the present cases, the SEIAA has sub divided projects as B1 and B2 without guidelines from the MoEF. The Rule 22 B of Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 has prescribed that the mining plan shall be prepared by a qualified person recognized under the Minor Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. But, contrary to the rule, the mining plans submitted along with the application were prepared by the Public Work Department officials only. The clearance was granted for mining of inflated quantity which is impossible while the depth of mining is only for 1 m resulting in illegal mining and environmental degradation. Attention has to be paid to several instances where damage has been caused, including damage to lakes, riverbeds and ground water leading to drying up of water table and causing water scarcity on account of quarrying in mining leases granted under the Miner Concession Rules framed by the State Government under section 15 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. The report on sustainable mining of minor minerals submitted in March 2010 to the Central Government clearly states that the mining of minor minerals individually is perceived to have lesser impact as compared to mining of major mines because of the smaller size of mine leases. However, the activity as a whole is seen to have significant adverse impacts on the environment. It is therefore necessary that the mining of minor minerals is subjected to simpler but strict regulatory regime and carried out only under an approved framework of mining plan which should provide for reclamation and rehabilitation of the mined out areas. Further, while granting mining leases by the respective State Governments and Union Territories, location of any eco-fragile zones within the impact zone of the proposed mining area, the rules/notifications governing such zones and the judicial pronouncements., if any, is duly noted. The Union Ministry of Mines along with the Indian Bureau of Mines and respective State Governments should therefore, make necessary provisions in this regard under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 and 22 adopt model guidelines to be followed by all States. The 2 nd respondent has not considered the gravity of the issue while granting the impugned clearance.

3. The appellants would further add that the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Special Leave Petition (C ) Nos. 19628-19629 of 2009 has observed that the quarrying of river sand, it is true, is an important economic activity in the country with river sand forming crucial raw material for the infrastructural development and for the construction industry but excessive in-stream sand and gravel mining causes the degradation of rivers. In-stream mining lowers the stream bottom of rivers which may lead to bank erosion. Depletion of sand in the stream bed and along coastal areas cause deepening of rivers which may result in the destruction of aquatic and riparian habitats as well. Extraction of alluvial material as already mentioned from within or near a stream bed has a direct impact on the stream's physical habitat and characteristics. It is highly necessary to have an effective framework of mining plan which will take care of environmental issues and also evolve a long term rational and sustainable use of natural resources base and also the bio-assessment protocol. Sand mining may have an adverse effect on bio- diversity as loss of habitat caused by sand mining will affect various species, flora and fauna and it may also destabilize the soil structure of river banks and often leave isolated islands. Taking note of those technical, scientific and environmental aspects the MoEF issued various recommendations in March 2010 followed by the model rules in 2010 framed by the Ministry of Mines which have to be given effect to, inculcating the spirit of Articles 48A, 21A(g) read with Article 21 of the Constitution. The Hon'ble Apex Court went on further to order that the leases of minor mineral including their renewal for an area of less than 5 ha be granted by the State Governments/Union Territories only after getting EC from the MoEF. That being so, the 2 nd respondent without any rationale, has classified the projects in the absence of any guidelines from the MoEF The impugned clearances have been granted without consideration of any relevant factors and without considering the extent of environmental damage that will result as a consequence of such mining in the area.

4. Per contra, the respondent No. 1, namely the MoEF of the Central Government has stated in the common reply to all the above appeals as follows:

The MoEF has notified EIA Notification, 2006 under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 which deals with the process to grant EC. The projects of mining 23 of minerals as stated in the schedule require prior EC under this notification. Category 'B' projects are being handled in the respective SEIAA notified by MoEF and following the procedure prescribed under the EIA Notification, 2006. As per the EIA Notification, 2006, the Category 'B' projects require an EIA report. As per the notification, for categorization of projects into B1 and B2, the MoEF shall issue appropriate guidelines from time to time. The SEIAAs are not empowered to categorize the Category 'B' projects into 'B1' and 'B2' projects. In the office memorandum No. J-13012/12/2013-IA(I) dated 24.12.2013, vide Annexure R-1 in the type set papers, the MoEF has issued the guidelines for consideration of proposals for grant of EC as per the EIA Notification, 2006 and its amendments regarding categorization of 'B' projects/activities into Category 'B1' and 'B2' which stated that in order to ensure compliance of order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India dated 27.02.2012, in I.A.Nos. 12-13 of 2011 in Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 19628-19629 of 2009 titled Deepak Kumar vs State of Haryana and others, the MoEF issued an office memorandum No. L-11011/47/2011-IA.II(M) dated 18.05.2012 (Annexure R-2) stating inter alia that all mining projects of minor minerals including their renewal, irrespective of the size of the lease would henceforth require prior EC and that the projects of minor minerals with lease area of less than 5 ha would be treated as Category 'B' as defined in EIA Notification, 2006 and will be considered by the SEIAA notified by the MoEF and following the procedure prescribed under EIA Notification, 2006.

5. Subsequently, the MoEF has issued an amendment to EIA Notification vide S.O.2731(E) dated 09.09.2013 and as per this Notification, the minor mineral mining projects having less than 5 ha of lease area are required to be appraised by the SEIAA/SEAC of the respective States for granting EC. The general conditions shall apply except for project or activity of less than 5 ha of mining lease area for minor minerals, provided that this exception shall not apply for the project or activity if the sum total of mining lease area of the said project or activity and that of existing operating mines and mining projects which were accorded EC and are located within 500 m from the periphery of such project or activity equals or exceeds 5 ha.

6. The respondent No.1, therefore, states that under the provisions of the procedure prescribed as per the EIA Notification, 2006, as amended from time to time, prior EC is necessary to operate any mining activity of minor mineral and the cases for 24 EC can only be processed as per the statutory procedure under the EIA, Notification, 2006 as amended.

7. The 2nd respondent, namely the Member Secretary, SEIAA, Tamil Nadu has filed a common reply to the above appeals countering averments in the applications in so far as the grant of EC for the 4th respondent. EC for the sand mining leases has been cleared for 9 applications as all of them are less than 25 ha in extent. It is contended by the 2nd respondent that, the Madurai Bench of Hon'ble Madras High Court disposed of the writ petitions in W,P.Nos. 10418 of 2004 4699, 8111, 8131, 8568, 8886 and 9654 of 2012 along with the connected miscellaneous petitions issuing the following directions on 03.08.2012 to SEIAA, Tamil Nadu: (a) enabling SEIAA to grant EC in terms of EIA Notification, 2006 for fresh sand quarry operations in the Cauvery River so as to give permission by the State authorities, and (b) on receipt of application seeking for EC for sand quarrying operation from the State authorities, the SEIAA shall consider the application and pass orders within a period of two months from the date of receipt of application from the State of Tamil Nadu/Public Works Department. Accordingly, the officials of the Public Works Department of the State of Tamil Nadu started filing project proposals from 13th August 2012. On an initial scrutiny of these proposals, it was seen that areas/extent applied for sand quarrying varied widely within 50 ha, all of which fall under 'B' category as per the thresholds fixed in the schedule. In the absence of appropriate MoEF guidelines on categorization of projects into 'B1' or 'B2', the SEIAA, Tamil Nadu could not proceed further in these cases in adhering to the orders of the Madurai Bench of the Hon'ble Madras High Court regarding the time limit. The MoEF was addressed to intimate the guidelines framed by the ministry for sub categorizing the 'B' category projects into 'B1' and 'B2' citing the directions of the Hon'ble High Court. While the matter stood thus, the SEIAA, Tamil Nadu came to know that the SEIAA, Andhra Pradesh had approved on 10.11.2008 certain guidelines as an interim arrangement, pending finalization of the guidelines by MoEF as to the sub categorization of 'B' and decided to follow the same guidelines and finalized the procedure in the joint meeting held by SEAC and SEIAA, Tamil Nadu in which it was decided that if the proposed mining area is more than 25 ha it will be considered as 'B1' category which will require the mandates of preparation of EIA as per the revised model terms of reference issued by the MoEF and public hearing shall be held which will be examined in detail for taking a decision on the issue of EC, strictly adhering to Government of India guidelines.

25

The SAEC/SEIAA of other States like Chatttisgarh, Orissa, Karnataka Goa etc., are also following similar procedure of sub categorizing the B category projects into 'B1' and 'B2' depending upon the threshold of the individual projects. The stand of SAEC/SEIAA, Tamil Nadu in opting to frame interim and adhoc guidelines to deal with the large number of project proposals filed by the Public Works Department of the State of Tamil Nadu seeking EC for sand quarry was again reiterated to MoEF by a communication dated 27.09.2012 stating further that when once the MoEF issues fresh notification for the guidelines the interim and adhoc guidelines framed by the SEAC/SEIAA, Tamil Nadu would cease to be in force. Hence, the SEIAA, Tamil Nadu is bound to adopt a particular line of approach which is sound in consonance with environmental standards in order to obey the time limit prescribed by the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of Madras High Court and the sub categorization will apply only to sand mining in Tamil Nadu through Public Works Department. The SEAC/SEIAA, Tamil Nadu took every care to ensure that the basic requirements are fulfilled for appraising such projects with safeguards. Pointing to the violation of the judgment of the Apex Court in the matter of Deepak Kumar and others Vs. State of Haryana and others (2012) 4 SCC 629, the 2nd respondent would submit in reply that the EC was issued to the Project Proponents with adequate care and attention and included specific and general conditions and other requisites to protect the environment including the closure and rehabilitation of mined areas and environment management plan among other things.

8. The 2nd respondent would further contend in reply to the allegation of the appellant that the EC has been given on the basis of mining plan prepared in violation of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 and thus it is illegal, that the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 were framed and notified by Government of India in exercise of the powers conferred by section 13 of the Mines and Mineral (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 and under Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 under rule 22(4A), the State Governments will be competent to approve mining plan of open cost mines (mines other than the underground mines) in respect of the non metallic or industrial minerals in their respective territorial jurisdiction and the 'sand' comes under non metallic and industrial minerals. When the sand is not used for prescribed purposes is to be considered as a minor mineral. The sand becomes a major mineral only when it attracts rule 22 (4 A) of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 and the sand is not to be treated as minor mineral only when it is used for the purposes listed in rule 70 of Mineral 26 Concession Rule, 1960. The EIA Notification, 1994 did not cover the mining of minor minerals for EC from the competent authority. However, minor minerals were brought under the ambit of EIA Notification, 2006 only when the leased area applied for EC is equal or more than 5 ha. The provisions of rule 22 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 will be attracted only in the case of extraction of major minerals and not minor minerals. As such, the requirement of preparation of a mining plan by a recognized qualified person as envisaged in rule 22(B) of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 is not applicable to the present case. Under section 15 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, the State Governments are vested with powers to make the rules in respect of minor minerals. This aspect has been discussed in detail by the Hon'ble Supreme Court which has ruled in paragraph 4 of the orders dated 27.02.2012 in I.A.Nos. 12-13 of 2011 in Special Leave Petition Nos. 19628-19629 of 2009 in Deepak Kumar and others vs. State of Haryana and others etc., that the mining of minor minerals is subjected to simpler but strict regulatory regime and carried out only under an approved framework of mining plan which provide for reclamation and rehabilitation of the mined out areas. The Hon'ble Supreme Court further added in paragraph 14 of the said order that all the State Governments/Union Territories have to give due weight to the above mentioned recommendations of the MoEF which are made in consultation with all the State Governments/Union Territories. The model rules of 2010 issued by the MoEF are very vital from the environmental, ecological and bio-diversity point of view and therefore, State Governments have to frame proper rules in accordance with the recommendations under section 15 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. The Hon'ble Supreme Court has directed all the States, Union Territories, MoEF and the Ministry of Mines to give effect to the recommendations made by the MoEF in its report of March 2010 and the model guidelines framed by the Ministry of Mines within a period of six months from the date of orders and to submit compliance reports.

9. The 2nd respondent states that it is clear from the above said factors that the requirement of preparation of mining plan by the recognized qualified persons is not yet made mandatory as far as the mining of minor minerals is concerned. However, as directed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the said orders, a detailed mining plan has been prepared and got approved by the Government of Tamil Nadu through its Public Works Department, incorporating EIA report, Environment Management Plan and 27 providing budget for environmental management. Hence, the SEAC/SEIAA, Tamil Nadu have not violated any of the provisions of either the Act or Rules concerning the minor minerals.

10. In so far as the allegations of the appellants in their averments as to the grant of EC for an inflated quantum and this quantum would cause environmental degradation and irreparable damage to the river and the quarrying of sand beyond the depth of 1 m is in violation of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959, the 2nd respondent would contend that the appellants in these cases have not fully understood the nature of sand deposits in a river. Since most of the rivers including River Cauvery is not flowing to its full capacity throughout the year and since partial flows in the river has become the order of the day, due to water current carrying sand and depositing at parts of the river has resulted in the formation of sand dunes or shoals at many stretches. These sand dunes or shoals are formed over and above the natural river bed levels and as such they have the potential to alter the course of water flow within the river. In order to restore the carrying capacity of the river fully, these sand dunes or shoals which are essentially excess sand deposits are to be removed periodically which otherwise would obstruct the flow during floods and cause erosion in the opposite curves along the bank, causing breaches of river banks and flooding of adjoining areas. The Public Works Department Engineers of the State Government while submitting the project proposals for obtaining EC have furnished the total depth of sand deposits available below the natural river bed level at the area of proposed sand mining and also the depth of shoals available above the natural river bed level in the mining plans approved by the district level officers the Geology and Mining Department of the State Government. The cross section levels at 100 m interval of the entire length of the proposed mining area have been furnished with details of natural bed level and the existing bed level and the particulars of depth of sand available in the proposed mining area blow natural bed level, the total depth of sand deposit available at various places in the mining area including shoal and EC was granted after looking into all the aspects and other technical details for removal of shoal as per the calculations shown in the mining plan and to remove sand up to 1 m depth.

11. With regard to the allegations in the averments of the appeals that the EC has been granted without having a public consultation and public hearing and preparation of EIA and merely on the basis of the applications by the proponents, namely the 4 th 28 respondent is against EIA Notification, 2006, the 2 nd respondent would reply that as the Tamil Nadu Government has categorized sand quarrying operations under 'B2' no public hearing was necessitated and was not conducted. However, the concerns of the local persons and others who have plausible stake in the environment of the proposed projects/activity were ascertained by the local revenue officials and then only the project proposals were recommended by the District Collectors. The 2 nd respondent has therefore prayed to dismiss all the appeals as devoid of merits.

12. The 4th respondent, namely the Executive Engineer of the State Public Works Department, would state in reply that the 4th respondent had applied to the 2nd respondent for the grant of EC for sand mining as per the procedure laid down in the EIA Notification, 2006 and as directed by the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in W.P. (MD).Nos. 4699, 8131, 8886 of 2012 and 10418 of 2004. At the time of processing of the application for EC, the appellants had raised their objections against the grant of EC for sand mining. However, the 2nd respondent, after due verification and perusal of the available materials/records, granted the EC for sand mining in accordance with law. In the EC, certain conditions were stipulated to be complied with by the 4 th respondent before commencing the mining operations and only after the completion all the conditions stipulated in the EC, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board gave its Consent to Operate. Taking cognizance of the indiscriminate quarrying in the river systems, the exploitation of natural resources and the illicit and haphazard sand mining which had led to deepening of the river beds, widening of the rivers, damage to civil structures, depletion of ground water table, degradation of ground water quality, sea water intrusion in coastal areas, damages to the river systems and reduction of bio- diversity, the Government of Tamil Nadu took immediate effective steps to curb the same. The State Government with a view to eliminate indiscriminate and unscientific sand quarrying, to ensure uninterrupted availability of sand to the common people in a regular and orderly manner at affordable price and to augment the revenue of the State Government, in public interest issued amendment to the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959, in G.O.Ms.No.95, dated 1.10.2003 by introduction of Rule 38- A of the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959, whereby all existing leases for quarrying sand in Government lands and permissions granted in ryotwari lands ceased to be effective with effect from 02.10.2003 The right to quarry sand in the State now vests only with the State through the respondent/Public Works Department.

29

13. As per the orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India dated 27.02.2012 (Deepak Kumar's case- Annexure R2) and as per the MOEF Office Memorandum No. L-11011/47/2011-1A.II(M) dated 18.05.2012 (Annexure R3), the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in its order dated 03.08.2012 in W.P.No.4699/2012 (Annexure R4), has ordered that the sand quarries should be operated only after obtaining EC from the SEIAA. The said order is as follows:

"a) Permission for fresh sand quarry operations in the Cauvery River are to be granted by the State Government / Secretary, Industries Department / District Collector only after getting Environmental Clearance from the SEIAA, as per the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification dated 14.9.2006 and further Office Memorandum of Ministry of Environment and Forests dated 18.5.2012.
b) On receipt of the application seeking for Environmental Clearance for sand quarrying operation from the State Government / Public Works Department, the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority is directed to consider the application and pass orders within a period of two months from the date of receipt of the application from the State of Tamil Nadu / Public Works Department".

14. Based on the above said order, the respondent had applied and obtained EC from the SEIAA i.e., the 2nd respondent herein and has been operating the sand quarries till date, in accordance with law. Most of the applicants in the above batch of cases before this Hon'ble Tribunal were also parties to the proceedings before the Hon'ble Madurai bench of the Madras High Court and are aware of the order that this respondent was directed to obtain EC from the 2nd respondent herein within a period of three months and as such they have not challenged the said order of the Hon'ble Madras High Court in W.P.No.4699/2012. In fact, it is only as per the orders of the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court that the applications were made to the 2 nd respondent herein and they had processed the same as per the time frame directed by the Hon'ble High Court. As per the EIA Notification, 2006, projects have been classified as Category "A" and "B". Category "A" projects have to get EC from the MoEF, Union of India at New Delhi. For B category projects, the EC has to be obtained from the SEIAA, the 2nd Respondent herein and hence, as per the EIA Notification dated 14th September, 2006 any mining project with more than 5 hectares but less than 50 hectares is treated 30 as B category project and the EC has to be obtained from the 2nd respondent. In the case of B category projects, they are further sub divided into B1 and B2 categories. According to Para 7 (i) (1) of the above EIA Notification, 'the projects requiring an EIA report shall be termed category 'B1' and remaining projects shall be category 'B2' and will not require any EIA report. For Categorization of projects into B1 and B2 except Item 8(b), the MoEF shall issue appropriate guidelines from time to time'. However, these guidelines are yet to be issued. Pending issuance of guidelines by MOEF, several of SEIAAs of States like Chattisgarh, Orissa, Karnataka, Goa, have made ad hoc arrangements and are also following a similar procedure of sub- categorizing B category projects into B1 and B2, depending upon thresholds of individual projects and in the present case the 2nd Respondent herein had followed the procedure of SEIAA, Andhra Pradesh in this regard, to formulate similar guidelines for Tamil Nadu for mining projects as an interim arrangement till such time, the MoEF, Government of India issues guidelines. Moreover, the order of the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in W.P.No.4699 of 2013, dated 03.08.2012 had fixed a time limit of 3 months for the 2nd respondent to process this respondent's EC applications.

15. The guidelines of SEIAA of Andhra Pradesh (Annexure R5) which were followed and are relevant for the present are as follows:

"1. In case, if the mine lease area is less than 25 ha. it will be considered as B2 category with EMP.
2. In case, if the mine lease area is more than 25 ha. it will be considered as B1 category, prepare the EIA as per revised Model TORs issued by MoEF, GOI and shall undertake public hearing."

16. Based on the order of Madurai Bench of Madras High court in W.P.No.4699 of 2013, dated 03.08.2012, the new sand quarries in the river beds of Cauvery , Coleroon in the respective villages in Karur, Tiruchy and Thanjavur Districts were identified with all merits of the project, the detailed project report was submitted before SEIAA on 16.08.2012. The mining plan was approved by the District Collector after conducting the joint inspection of Assistant Director (Mines), Revenue Divisional Officer, Executive Engineers of Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board and the Public Works Department and other Public Works Department officials. There were no 31 objections at all and in fact the applicants herein who were also aware of the same did not raise any objections and now suddenly as an afterthought have filed the above frivolous case for vested interest.

17. The SEIAA of Tamil Nadu in its sitting on 10.10.2012 conducted a detailed enquiry with the project proponent about the merits of the project. In this meeting, it was instructed by the SEIAA to conduct the air quality test, water table, quality test, and flora and fauna studies as a measure to study the impact on local environment. It was also instructed to form the pathway using bio-degradable materials, rest shed and eco-toilet for workers, safety kits for workers and first aid kits for workers. The EC was granted on 30.11.2012 after following all the rules and regulations and the procedure in accordance with law. All the conditions imposed by SEIAA, the 2nd Respondent herein have been and are being scrupulously followed by the respondent/ Department. Further, the area of 11.60 ha is much less than 25 ha, which is the requirement for the 2 nd respondent to consider it as Category B2 item and thus, the respondent/ department has followed and is following the procedure enunciated in the EIA Notification 2006, by considering all the environment and ecological conditions.

18. In respect of minor minerals except granites, the 1st respondent's office memorandum dated 18.05.2012, has instructed to follow the order of Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 27.2.2012 in I.A.No.12-13 of 2011 in SLP (C) No 19628-19629 of 2009 in the matter of Deepak Kumar etc., vs State of Haryana. In Tamil Nadu, as per G.O. Ms. No. 95, Industries (MMCI) Department dated 01-10-2003, Rule 38 A of Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules 1959, contemplated that the right to exploit sand in the State shall only be vested with the State Government. The sand quarrying henceforth will be undertaken only by the Government through a single agency namely the 4 th Respondent Department, to eliminate indiscriminate and unscientific sand quarrying. The sand quarries in the river bed of Cauvery and Coleroon are also intended to remove the sand shoals and to maintain the river section hydrologically safe to pass the flood without affecting the banks and villages. The sand mining itself is a reclamation process of river hydrology and the said activities by the State Government are in the true spirit and in obedience of the aforesaid orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

32

19. Out of total revenue of sand, nearly 30% of amount is remitted to village panchayat for various rehabilitation measures like renewing the village roads, providing drinking water facilities, improving sanitary facilities, construction of public health centres, community halls and school building, planting of trees and other rehabilitation measures. Considering the facts, the Executive Engineer is the competent person to prepare the mining plan on the river bed by considering the level of production, details of geology i.e., depth of sand available, lithology of the precise area, nature and extent. The Rule 22 B of the Minor Mineral Concession Rule 1960 contemplates that the person having professional experience of five years in supervising of mining after obtaining the degree shall be recognized as Registered Qualified person (RQP) by State / IBM. The Executive Engineer, PWD is competent person to prepare any sand mining plan on river bed in the absence of clear rule provision for minor mineral, which is yet to be enacted by Govt. of India Further, the Executive Engineer, PWD has requested the state Government to approve him as a registered qualified person to prepare mining plan under the new rule of Draft Minor Mineral Conservation and Development Rule 2010. Since, he himself is fully qualified and also the Conservator of River. The concept of prior EC for minor minerals is in evolving stage after the Apex court order on 27.02.2013 in Deepak Kumar vs Haryana State. The environmental aspects of quarrying of minor mineral - Evolving of Model guidelines for lease area 5 ha and above which introduces the 'Draft Minor Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 2010', is yet to be enacted by the Government of India and is under active consideration of the Government of India.

20. The quantity is calculated scientifically after taking the spot levels of the entire area. Cross sectional leveling of the river at the point of shoal formation was carried out. The area of shoal and average height give the granting of reserve above the natural bed. Further, it is added with the quantity of total base with 1 m depth below the natural river bed to calculate the estimate quantity. The quantity calculation with detailed cross section was submitted to the 2nd Respondent SEIAA and was scrutinized by SEIAA. The quantity of 3,70,423 M3 is credible and not inflated.

21. The sand mining operation by the 4th Respondent department has not affected the ground water and the statement that it leads to water scarcity is a farfetched imaginary statement and the 2nd respondent has not granted any lenience to this respondent and in fact all the required rules and regulations have been followed. Further, 33 the 2nd respondent SEIAA has given EC for sand quarry with all effort to protect the environmental and ecological balance by getting all the required data through State Level Expert Appraisal Committee and after taking into consideration the merits and demerits and it is also to be considered that the sand is important raw material for infrastructure development of the State and people will get the sand at affordable price. The respondent would reiterate that based on the orders of the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in its orders dated 03/8/2012 in W.P. (MD) No.4699 of 2012 and batch cases, necessary applications were made to the 2nd respondent and after having following the procedure in accordance with law, the ECs were granted. In case the appellants had any grievance, they could have challenged the orders in the writ petition or at least at the time of processing the application. However, the appellants chose to remain silent and suddenly woke up and to prove that the above appeal is motivated and filed at the instigation of interested parties.

22. Several strict specific and general conditions have been imposed by the 2nd respondent while granting EC, including those for the closure and rehabilitation of mined out areas, environment management plan. Among other things, the following conditions have been stipulated in the EC and this would prove that the appellant has misrepresented the case to suit their convenience:

Specific Conditions:
"In Part (5) xviii. At the end of mine closure, the Proponent shall immediately remove all the sheds put up in the quarry and all the equipment in the area at the time of closure of the operation of sand quarry. All the roads /path ways shall be leveled to let the river assume its normal course without any artificial obstruction to the extent possible.
xix. The mined out pits should be backfilled where warranted and area should be suitably landscaped to prevent environmental degradation.
xx. Restoration of riparian and in stream habitats, restoration of river geometry causing degradation in upstream, downstream and in the mining area, depletion and prevention of contamination of ground water etc., shall be taken care of, by the proponent."
GENERAL CONDITIONS :
34

"iv) A study shall be got carried out through an expert agency like Central Water Commission relating to replenishment of the mineral (siltation study) in this river so as to ensure that the quantity of mineral to be removed does not exceed the siltation to avoid over exploitation of mineral which may adversely affect the dynamics of the river. This study shall be steered by the State Government, based on which the capacity of the mine will be decided by the concerned Department of the State Govt. while granting mining lease.

ix) The project proponent shall undertake hydro geological study through reputed institution/organization within six months. The proponent shall undertake adequate safeguard measures during extraction of river bed material and ensure that due to this activity the hydro-geological regime of the surrounding area shall not be affected.

x) Regular monitoring of ground water level and quality shall be carried out around the mine lease area by establishing a network of existing wells and installing new piezometers during the mining operation. The periodic monitoring [(at least four times in a year- pre-monsoon (April-May), monsoon (August), post-monsoon (November) and winter (January); once in each season)] shall be carried out in consultation with the State Ground Water Board/Central Ground Water Authority and the data thus collected may be sent regularly to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and its Regional Office Bangalore, the Central Ground Water Commission and the Regional Director, Central Ground Water Board. If at any stage, it is observed that the groundwater table is getting depleted due to the mining activity; necessary corrective measures shall be carried out, which includes immediate stopping of mining.

xii) Appropriate mitigative measures shall be taken to prevent pollution of the river in consultation with the State Pollution Control Board. It shall be ensured that there is no leakage of oil and grease in the river from the vehicles used either for excavation or for transportation.

xv) Quarrying should enrich rather than deplete the biodiversity as a corollary to their intervention in the ecology of their area of activity.

(xviii) After completion of quarrying of permitted quantity of sand in the river, the natural slope of the river should be maintained without any low-level area in the mined area, by carrying out an approved mine closure plan.

35

xxi) Mining activity should not cause threat to the biodiversity, destroy river vegetation, cause erosion, pollute water sources etc. xxii) Four ambient air quality-monitoring stations should be established in the core zone as well as in the buffer zone for RSPM (Particulate matter with size less than 10 micron i.e., PM10) and NOx monitoring. Location of the stations should be decided based on the meteorological data, topographical features and environmentally and ecologically sensitive targets and frequency of monitoring should be undertaken in consultation with the State Pollution Control Board.

xxiv) Fugitive dust emissions from all the sources should be controlled regularly. Water spraying arrangement on haul roads, loading and unloading and at transfer points should be provided and properly maintained.

xxv) Personnel working in dusty areas should wear protective respiratory devices and they should also be provided with adequate training and information on safety and health aspects. Occupational health surveillance programme of the workers should be undertaken periodically to observe any contractions due to exposure to dust and take corrective measures, if needed.

xxvi) Periodical medical examination of the workers engaged in the project shall be carried out and records maintained. For the purpose, schedule of health examination of the workers should be drawn and followed accordingly. The workers shall be provided with personnel protective measures such as masks, gloves, boots etc. Hence, the true spirit of the order of the Apex court has been followed and EC granted in accordance with law.

23. In the EIA Notification Para 7 (1) III Stage (3) Public Consultation (i) (e), all categories of projects and activities are exempted from the process of public consultation. The present project is categorized as B2 project and hence there was no requirement of any public hearing. However, as required objections were called for and all the required formalities were followed and the procedure followed in accordance with law. The entire mining operation of the sand quarry has been brought under strict regulatory regime and has been put under continuous scrutiny of the regulating 36 authorities and in the EC issued to this respondent, adequate care and attention have been taken and all specific and General conditions and the required safeguards to protect the Environment along with the Environment Management Plan, among other things, have been included and the same are being followed without any default.

24. The respondent would conclude that the above appeals are time barred, filed with vested interest and devoid of merits and any adverse order against this respondent would result in severe hardship as the regulated supply of sand is required for numerous public development and infrastructure activities. This apart, as the mining activity is being done only by the State and that too without affecting the environment, the appellant cannot have any grievance.

The following points for determination and decision are formulated:

i. Who was authorized to issue Environmental Clearance for mining minor minerals at the relevant point of time?

ii. Was the SEIAA, Tamil Nadu right in adopting guidelines of SEIAA, Andhra Pradesh?

iii. Did the MOEF take exception to the usurpation of its powers by SEIAA, Tamil Nadu?

iv. If no one was competent to process environmental clearances to minor minerals than what ought to be the practical approach?

v. Whether the ad hoc and interim ECs granted by SEIAA/Tamil Nadu, the 2 nd respondent herein to the 4th respondent/Executive Engineers of Public Works Department of the concerned Divisions in charge of Rivers Cauvery and Coleroon in the S. Nos. of the villages referred to above in the relevant proceedings are maintainable.

Point Nos. 1 to 5

25. Advancing the arguments on behalf of the appellants, the learned counsel Shri T. Mohan would submit that the 2nd respondent has granted the impugned clearances illegally classifying the projects as 'B2' category-Projects while the 2nd respondent has no power or authority to classify as B Category-Projects into B1 and B2. The said clearances were given against the mandatory requirement of EIA Notification, 2006. As 37 required, the public hearing was not held before granting the clearances. Pointing to Clause 7 of the EIA Notification, 2006, the learned counsel would submit that in case of B2 category projects activities the I stage of scrutiny would entail the scrutiny of an application seeking prior EC made in From I by the concerned SAEC for deterrmining whether or not the project and activities required further environmental studies for preparation of EIA for appraisal prior to grant of EC depending upon the nature, location etc., of the project. If the project required an EIA report, it shall be termed Category-B1 and the remaining project shall be termed Category-B2 which does not require an EIA report. But, for categorization of projects as B1 and B2 except item 8(b) the MoEF shall issue appropriate guidelines from time to time. Thus, the EIA Notification has abundantly made clear that the SEIAA has no authority to classify the projects in the absence of guidelines from MoEF. It is pertinent to point out that the Respondent Nos. 1, 2 and 4 have conceded that on the date of granting of the impugned clearances, no guidelines were issued. The 1st respondent/MoEF in its reply affidavit has categorically stated that the SEIAAs were not empowered to sub categorize the B projects into to B1 and B2. The 1st respondent has also stated that the guidelines are issued by the MoEF dated 24.12.2013 for consideration of proposals for grant of EC as per EIA Notification, 2006. Thus, it would be quite clear that the 2nd respondent has acted without authority and any exercise of powers without sanction of law is illegal and thus the impugned clearances are illegal and non est in law. Even the 2nd respondent has also admitted that the impugned clearances were granted by classifying the projects as B2 without mandatory guidelines issued by the 1st respondent. The affidavit filed by the 2nd respondent would indicate a communication shown as Annexure-II whereby it was written to the 1st respondent in the absence of guidelines, no categorization was possible. No reliance can be placed either on the decision or on the guidelines framed by SEIAA of Andhra Pradesh State dated 10.11.2008 since the 2nd respondent cannot claim that the authority could follow a decision taken by other States when it is illegal. The 2 nd respondent has also acknowledged the fact that the action taken by them in the absence of authority could lead to problems of litigation. All the above would indicate that the 2 nd respondent has usurped the powers and granted the impugned clearances in the absence of any powers vested on them by law. The learned counsel would further state that the 4 th respondent has categorically admitted in his reply that the guidelines were yet to be issued by the MoEF on the date of reply. The averments about the adequacy of the alleged safeguards in the impugned clearances were false. It is an admitted fact that the 2 nd respondent had 38 proceeded to grant the impugned clearances even without insisting on an EIA being conducted and without any material to show that the rivers were fit for mining. The ECs granted by the 2nd respondent were not based on any study of assessment. Condition No.9 of the General Conditions states that the project proponent shall undertake hydro geological study through reputed institution/organization within six months. The proponent shall undertake adequate safeguard measures during extraction of river bed material and ensure that due to this activity the hydro-geological regime of the surrounding area shall not be affected and. the studies should be done and submitted to the authority. It was also submitted that the mining plan ought to be prepared by an authorized person under rule 22 (B) of the MCR, 1960. But, no mining plan has been submitted by the respondent. The respondents have never taken into consideration that under MCR, 1960 sand ought not to be treated as minor mineral when used for 7 uses mentioned therein. The 2nd respondent has not considered whether the present mining would be utilized for the said purposes and has granted the impugned clearances by treating sand as a minor mineral. The contention of the respondents in respect of the demand for sand did not justify any violation of law.

26. Placing reliance on the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Deepak Kumar and others vs. State of Haryana and others reported in AIR 2012, SC 1386, the counsel would submit that quarrying of river sand is an important economic activity in the country with river sand forming a crucial raw material for infrastructural development and for the construction industry, but the excessive in-stream sand and gravel mining causes degradation of rivers and sand mining might have an adverse effect on bio-diversity as loss of habitat caused by sand mining will effect various species and flora and fauna and it might also destabilize the soil structure of river banks and often leaves isolated islands. The counsel also took the Tribunal to the decision of the Hon'ble Madras High Court in M.K. Janardhanam vs. The District Collector (Contempt Application No. 561 of 2001 in W.P.No. 985 of 2000) speaking about illicit quarrying of sand in Thiruvallur District. The effect of excessive, illegal quarrying without proper assessment of the risks and impact would have adverse effects on the ecosystem. And thus while granting licenses the local people should be taken into confidence. They should be allowed to air their views and raise objections. But, in the instant case public objections were not even considered while granting the impugned clearances. Indiscriminate sand mining without assessing the carrying capacity of the area and the environment and 39 without a holistic and comprehensive assessment of the impact of mining is contrary to the Principles of Sustained Development and Precautionary Principles. The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Research Foundation for Science Technology and Natural Resources Policy vs. Union of India (AIR 2007 SC (Supp) 852), has reaffirmed the 'Precautionary Principle' and 'Polluters-Pay' principles are part of the concept of Sustainable Development. The applications of those principles are well settled and they govern the law in our country as is clear from Articles 47, 48-A and 51-A (g) of the Constitution of India. The above concepts are already imbibed in various environmental statutes including the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (for short ' EPA,1986). The learned counsel would further submit that the grant of ECs by the 2nd respondent to 4th respondent is against the Principles of Inter- generational Equity and Sustainable Development and also against the Public Trust Doctrine. . In order to substantiate his contentions, the learned counsel relied on the following decisions:

(i) Andhra Pradesh State Pollution Control Board Vs. Prof. M.V. Naidu and others (1999) 1 SCR 235.
(ii) L. Krishnan Vs. State of Tamil Nadu (2005(3) MLJ 363
(iii) National Audubon Society Vs. Superior Court of Alpine Country 33 Cal. 419.

27. The learned counsel concluded his arguments by stating that the impugned clearances were illegally issued without authority of law and contrary to the environmental protection and conservation. Hence, the impugned environmental clearances have to be set aside.

28. The elaborate submissions made by Shri N.R. Chandran, the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the 2nd respondent, Shri A.L. Somayaji, learned Advocate General of Tamil Nadu appearing for the 4th respondent/Public Works Department and Shrimathi C. Sangamithirai, learned Standing Counsel appearing for the 1 st respondent/MoEF, Government of India were heard. The written submissions placed by the 2 nd and 4th respondents are recorded.

29. The Tribunal paid its anxious considerations on the submissions made both oral and written by the learned Senior Counsel, Advocate General and the Standing counsel appearing for the Respondent Nos. 2, 4 and 1, respectively.

40

30. All these appeals have been filed challenging the ECs granted by the 2 nd respondent/SEIAA to the 4th respondent/Public Works Department.

31. As per the EIA Notification, 2006 all the projects are classified as Category A and B. While the Category-A projects have to get EC from the MoEF/Government of India, for Category-B projects, EC has to be obtained from SEIAA shown as the 2 nd respondent herein. Under EIA Notification, 2006 any mining project with more than 5 ha and less than 50 ha is classified as B Category-Project and EC has to be obtained only from the 2nd respondent. The B Category-Projects are further sub divided into B1 and B2 categories and in so far as the projects falling under B2 category no EIA nor public consultation and public hearing are required. Thus, only for B1 category the EIA, public consultation and public hearing are required.

32. According to paragraph 7(1) (1) of the EIA Notification, 2006, the projects requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment report shall be termed category 'B1' and remaining projects shall be category 'B2' and will not require an Environment Impact Assessment report. For Categorization of projects into B1 and B2, except Item 8(b), the Ministry of Environment and Forests shall issue appropriate guidelines from time to time. It is a pleaded case of all the parties that these guidelines were not issued till 24.12.2013. A copy of the guidelines was placed before the Tribunal during the pendency of the proceedings. It is pertinent to point out at this stage that though the EIA Notification, 2006 which came into force with a mandate that the MoEF should issue appropriate guidelines for Categorization of projects into B1 and B2 except item 8(b) from time to time, the MoEF has not framed the guidelines all along in the past. No explanation was forthcoming from the 1st respondent in this regard.

33. It is contended by the learned Advocate General that the State Government with a view to eliminate indiscriminate and unscientific sand quarrying and also to ensure continuous availability of sand to larger public in a regular and orderly manner at an affordable price and also to augment the revenue of the State, issued an amendment to the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959 by introducing rule 38-A whereby all existing leases for sand quarrying in Government lands and permissions granted in ryotwari lands ceased to have effect from 02.10.2003 and as a result the right to quarry 41 sand in the State now vests only with the State through the 4th respondent/Public Works Department. Thus, it would be quite clear that at present the right to quarry sand in the State is now vested with the State Government through one of the Departments, namely the Public Works Department.

34. Alleging violation of rules and regulation of MMCR and also excessive and unscientific sand quarrying in the river beds and in-stream causing damage to river system and degradation of good water quality, a batch of writ petitions was filed in W.P. (MD) Nos. 4699, 8111, 8131, 8568, 8886 of 2012 and 10418 of 2004 before the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of Madras High Court. A Division Bench of the High Court after considering the merits of the petitions therein made a common order on 03.08.2012 that the sand quarries should be operated only after obtained EC from the SEIAA. The said order reads as follows:

"48. When we direct the State Government to obtain environmental clearance for sand quarry operations, now the point falling for consideration is whether the existing sand quarry operations are to be stopped.
49. River sand is a very important raw material for infrastructure development, construction activities including implementation of various welfare schemes of the Government. In various decisions, the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that balance between environmental protection and developmental activities could only be maintained by strictly following the principles of 'sustainable development'. Right to environment is a fundamental right; at the same time, right to development is also one. In (2004) 9 SCC 362 [N.D.Jayal and another v. Union of India and others], the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that "concept of sustainable development is to be treated as integral part of life under Article 21 of Constitution of India". The concept of 'sustainable development' finds support in various decisions of the Court in 1995 (3) SCC 363 [State of H.P. v. Ganesh Wood Products]; 1997 (2) SCC 653 [M.C.Mehta v. Union of India]; 2002 (10) SCC 664 [Narmada Bachao Andolan v. Union of India] and (2006) 3 SCC 549 [Intellectuals Forum, Tirupathi v. State of A.P. and others].
42
50. We need to balance between economic and social needs on the one hand with environmental consideration on the other hand. Sand is required for construction of houses to the poor, implementation of welfare schemes and infrastructure development activities. If the sand quarry operation is to be stopped, abruptly, the developmental activities and implementation of various welfare schemes of the Government would come to a stand-still. In the State of Tamil Nadu, sand quarry operations are being carried out by the Public Works Department, perhaps with a bonafide impression that environmental clearance is not necessitated in view of the unique feature that Public Works Department itself is operating the sand quarries. Sufficient time is to be granted to the State Government/Public Works Department to approach the Authorities for obtaining mandated environmental clearance and in the mean while, we are of the considered view that certain sand quarries as indicated infra are to be continued to be operated for a period of three months.

35. A reading of the above order would indicate that the permission for fresh sand quarry operations in Rivers Cauvery and Coleroon should be granted by the State only after getting EC from the SEIAA as per the EIA Notification, 2006 and further the Office Memorandum of MoEF dated 18.12.2012. It was also made clear in the order that when an application seeking for EC for sand quarry was made by the State Government/Public Works Department, SEIAA should consider the application and pass order within a period of two months from the date of receipt of the application. Since many of the appellants were parties to the writ petitions, they cannot now plead as if they had no knowledge of the proceedings and order made thereon. But, the said order of the High Court was never challenged by any one of the writ petitioners.

36. Pursuant to the order of the High Court, the 4th respondent in the relevant appeals herein above made their applications for the project proposals for sand quarries within 50 ha all of which falling under B category. It is not in controversy that for the categorization of projects as B1 and B2, the MoEF has to issue appropriate guidelines from time to time. But, the MoEF did not formulate the guidelines. However, the SEIAA had to consider the applications within 2 months from the date of receipt of the same.

43

While the Hon'ble Division Bench of Madurai of the High Court Madras made the common order on 03.08.2012, the 4th respondents made their applications on the dates within the time limit allowed in the common order dated 03.08.2012, Under such circumstances, the Chairman, SEIAA sent a communication on 21.08.2012 addressed to the Joint Secretary, MoEF and also another communication dated 30.08.2012 wherein the receipt of applications , directions issued by the High Court and stating that ad hoc guidelines if any framed by the SEIAA would give way for further litigations was brought to specific notice of the MoEF stressing the imminent necessity for framing the guidelines by MoEF for sub categorization of the B Category projects into B1 and B2. However, the MoEF kept silent. A reading of the said common order clearly indicates that the direction of Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in the above said order was brought to the notice of the MoEF. But no reply was received. It remains to be stated that the MoEF, which has not framed the guidelines from the time of EIA Notification, 2006 has not paid due consideration The Tribunal is able to notice that there were two compelling reasons:- firstly, the direction issued by the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of Madras High Court to SEIAA to pass order within 2 months and secondly, the silence on the part of MoEF by not responding to the communication with a request for formulation of guidelines for taking a decision for framing interim and ad hoc guidelines. Explaining all the above circumstances, the 2nd respondent/SEIAA informed its decision to the Secretary, MoEF to adopt the following guideline in the joint meeting of SAEC and SEIAA conducted on 28.12.2012 by a communication dated 27.09.2012:

(i) All mining projects wherein the boundary of the proposed mining area is at least 1 km away from the human inhabitation/other sensitive areas will be considered for sanction of EC subject to satisfaction of other guidelines.
(ii) If the boundary of the proposed mining area is less than 1 km, the SEAC will inspect the site and asses the various environmental impacts and then recommend/reject with specific conditions/reasons.
(iii) In case, if the proposed mining area is less than 25 ha, it will be considered as B2 category with Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and processed further.
(iv) In case, if the proposed mining area is more than 25 ha, it will be considered as B1 category, which will require preparation of EIA as per the revised model Terms of Reference (TOR) issued by MoEF, Government 44 of India and public hearing will be undertaken and the same will be examined in detail for taking a decision on the issue of EC, strictly adhering to Government of India guidelines.

37. It was also made clear that the above guidelines were only interim and ad hoc in nature and would be replaced by those notified by MoEF, Government of India in future and the said ad hoc guidelines would cease to be in force from the date of notification/office memorandum to be issued by the MoEF on the subject. It is a matter of surprise to note that even after the above communication dated 27.09.2012, the MoEF neither replied nor raised any objections, nor formulated any guideline till 24.12.2013. Though the 1st respondent filed reply affidavit in all these appeals, nowhere it was averred that the guidelines so framed were illegal nor how the 2nd respondent was not justified in making the ad hoc guidelines to meet the said situation arising out of the directions of the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in the order dated 03.08.2012 in the batch of writ petitions as aforesaid. The MoEF, though averred in its reply that the SEIAA was not empowered to categorize the B Projects into B1 and B2 and framed the guidelines on 24.12.2013, has not stated anything or found fault with the EC issued by the 2 nd respondent. Neither it has nullified, nor cancelled or even commented on the impugned ECs prior to the date of issuance of the guidelines dated 24.12.2013.

38. Under such circumstances, the Tribunal is able to find force in the contentions put forth by the learned Advocate General that in view of the above 2 factors, the 2 nd respondent was legally bound to take a decision which was in sound consonance with environmental standard in order to obey the time limit prescribed by the High Court. Apart from that, sub categorization of B Projects into B1 and B2 and also the guidelines thereon was purely interim and ad hoc and that too only for the sand mining in the rivers by the State Government through its Public Works Department.

39. Terming the sub classification of B Category Projects into B1 and B2 and also the guidelines made by the 2nd respondent as illegal, the learned counsel for the appellants with vigor and vehemence submits that the 2 nd respondent has no power under EIA Notification, 2006, the MoEF only should issue appropriate guidelines from time to time and while the same is made abundantly clear under EIA Notification, 2006, the SEIAA should not have classified the projects and any demand for sand did not justify 45 the violation of law. The said contention is answered by the learned counsel for the respondents that knowing fully well its obligations to frame the guidelines, the MoEF has not done so, even though compelling reasons were brought to its notice. Despite 3 communications made by the 2nd respondent, the MoEF did not come forward with any prohibition by way of any notification, circular, or in the form of reply from categorization of B Projects into B1 and B2 by adopting ad hoc guidelines merely because the guidelines were yet to be framed by the MoEF will not in any way take away the right of 2 nd respondent to exercise its discretion to take a decision as done in the instant case. In order to substantiate the said contention, the learned Advocate General relied on the following decisions:

(i) Trisha Gupta Vs. Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and another, in W.P ( c).No. 5436 of 2012 & CM 11067/2012 , High Court of Delhi at New Delhi.
(ii) Shriram Sugar Industries Ltd. v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Others, reported at (1974) 1 SCC 534.
(iii) Bhakta Ramegowda and others Vs. State of Karnataka and Others -
reported in (1997) 2 Supreme Court Cases 661.
(iv) Shri Rama Sugar Industries Ltd Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh - reported (1974) 1 SCC Shri Rama Sugar Industries Ltd Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh - reported (1974) 1 SCC.

40. All the above decisions lend support to the contentions put forth by the respondents' side. Thus, the right vested with the 2nd respondent/SEIAA to sub categorizes the B Category Projects into B1 and B2 will not be taken away by not framing of guidelines by the 1st respondent/MoEF. Nor it can be termed as illegal so long it complies with and be reconcilable with the provisions of the notification and has relevance to its objects.

41. Assailing the impugned ECs, the learned counsel for the appellants would submit that not only the ECs were granted by the 2nd respondent/SEIAA without power, but also the concerns of the public and also the factors affecting the interested were not taken into consideration. The so called conditions imposed were simply farce. In response to the above contention, the learned counsel for the respondents would submit 46 that the subject projects were treated as B2 for which public consultation, public hearing and preparation of EIA were not required. The sand quarry proposals with less than 25 ha were placed before the SAEC by the Chief Engineer, Public Works Department, Water Resources Department, Tiruchy. The Project Proponents explained the need and necessity of proposal and restoration of the river hydrology by considering various environmental factors. The Committee discussed elaborately on all necessary factors, namely the level of production, method of mining, approach to quarry situation, judicious use of poclain machine, and its necessity by considering the river ecology, habitations, Environment Management Plan during operation and Corporate Social Responsibility of the department. The learned counsel for the respondents would further add that the conditions imposed in the interim and ad hoc guidelines formulated by the SEIAA are more stringent than the guidelines formulated by the MoEF. In order to substantiate the same, they placed a comparison table which is as follows:

47

Categorization of B2 Projects by SEIAA and MoEF Sl. No SEIAA MoEF 1 Less than 25 ha. Less than 25 ha 2 Form-I, Pre-feasibility Report, Form -I, Pre-feasibility Report, Mining Mining Plan and Environment Plan Management Plan 3 Post monitoring studies on Environmental Impact by air test, ---------------------

          water     test,   hydrogeological
          studies, replenishment studies
          and flora and fauna studies
   4      Mining activity done manually or in Mining activity done manually
          strict accordance with the orders of
          the Government of Tamil Nadu as
          upheld by the Hon'ble High Court
          of Madras
   5      It shall be ensured that the sand No in-stream mining shall be allowed
          quarrying shall not be carried out
          below water table under any
          circumstances
   6      No public hearing and EIA report    No public hearing and EIA report
   7      The ultimate working depth shall Depth of mining shall be restricted to 3

be 1 m from the theoretical bed meter/water level, whichever is less. level of the river/water level, whichever is less 8 A study to be carried out through Mining plan approved by an authorized an expert agency like Central agency of the State Government shall Water Commission relating to inter alia include study to show that the replenishment of the mineral annual replenishment of sand in the (siltation study) in the river mining lease area is sufficient to sustain the mining operations.

9 Maximum ceiling for EC is 5 years Maximum ceiling for EC is 5 years

42. A perusal of the ad hoc guidelines framed by the 2nd respondent and also the guidelines made by the MoEF dated 24.12.2013, no doubt, as seen above, would indicate that the conditions imposed in the ad hoc guidelines are stringent than the guidelines formulated by the MoEF and hence the contentions put forth by the learned counsel for the appellants have necessarily to be rejected.

48

43. The contentions put forth by the appellants as to the extraction of sand more than the permitted limit does not fall within the scope of the appeals and hence does not arise for consideration.

44. Much reliance was placed by the counsel for the appellants on the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court in Deepak Kumar and others vs State of Haryana and others AIR (2012) SC 1386. Equally, the reliance was placed on the above decisions before the Hon'ble Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in the writ petitions referred to above. After taking into consideration of the factual and legal positions the Division Bench of the Madras High Court has observed as follows:

"48. When we direct the State Government to obtain environmental clearance for sand quarry operations, now the point falling for consideration is whether the existing sand quarry operations are to be stopped.
49. River sand is a very important raw material for infrastructure development, construction activities including implementation of various welfare schemes of the Government. In various decisions, the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that balance between environmental protection and developmental activities could only be maintained by strictly following the principles of 'sustainable development'. Right to environment is a fundamental right; at the same time, right to development is also one. In (2004) 9 SCC 362 N.D.Jayal and another v. Union of India and others], the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that "concept of sustainable development is to be treated as integral part of life under Article 21 of Constitution of India". The concept of 'sustainable development' finds support in various decisions of the Court in 1995 (3) SCC 363 [State of H.P. v. Ganesh Wood Products]; 1997 (2) SCC 653 [M.C.Mehta v. Union of India]; 2002 (10) SCC 664 [Narmada Bachao Andolan v. Union of India] and (2006) 3 SCC 549 [Intellectuals Forum, Tirupathi v. State of A.P. and others].
50. We need to balance between economic and social needs on the one hand with environmental consideration on the other hand. Sand is required for construction of houses to the poor, implementation of welfare schemes and infrastructure development activities. If the sand quarry operation is to 49 be stopped abruptly, the developmental activities and implementation of various welfare schemes of the Government would come to a stand-still. In the State of Tamil Nadu, sand quarry operations are being carried out by the Public Works Department, perhaps with a bonafide impression that environmental clearance is not necessitated in view of the unique feature that Public Works Department itself is operating the sand quarries. Sufficient time is to be granted to the State Government/Public Works Department to approach the Authorities for obtaining mandated environmental clearance and in the mean while, we are of the considered view that certain sand quarries as indicated infra are to be continued to be operated for a period of three months. "

45. When a question was raised as to what should be the practical approach in respect of the sand quarry operation in the absence of any guidelines by the MoEF for categorization and no ad hoc guidelines are framed by the 2nd respondent, the learned counsel for the appellants would submit that if such a necessity arose, the sand has to be transported from other States in order to meet the needs. The above contention cannot be given any consideration from the view of larger interest of the public. At this juncture, the learned Advocate General placed materials to show that pending issuance of the guidelines by the MoEF, the SEIAAs of different States like, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka, Goa, etc., had made ad hoc arrangements and were following similar procedure of sub categorizing the B Category Projects into B1 and B2. In the present case, the 2nd respondent has followed the procedure of SEIAA, Andhra Pradesh in this regard, to formulate guidelines for the sand mining projects in Tamil Nadu as an interim arrangement till such time the guidelines are issued by the MoEF.

46. The Tribunal is of the considered opinion that balance has to be struck on economic and social needs on one hand with environmental consideration on the other. After perusal of the guidelines and also the conditions attached to the EC, it would be quite clear that sufficient safeguards have been taken by the 2 nd respondent at the time of framing the ad hoc and interim guidelines and it would be replaced by those guidelines notified by the MoEF. It is true that the MoEF has now framed the guidelines dated 24.12.2013 as per the legal mandate made in the EIA Notification 2006 and a copy of which is placed before the Tribunal. Following the said guidelines, the 4 th respondents 50 have to necessarily make applications for EC. After the applications are made they have to necessarily pass through the stages namely, screening, scoping, public consultation and appraisal before the grant of EC. Needless to say, it is a time consuming process which would take not less than six months. In the larger interest of the public it would not be fit and proper to stop abruptly the operation of the ECs granted by the SEIAA, the 2 nd respondent herein as an interim and ad hoc measure.

47. In view of the economic and social needs and public interest at large, the Tribunal is of the considered opinion that the ECs originally granted 2nd respondent/SEIAA based on the ad hoc guidelines can be continued for a period of six months with a direction to the 4th respondents to make necessary applications for obtained EC based on the guidelines issued by the MoEF which have came into force from 24.12.2013 and thereafter the 2nd respondent has to proceed for grant of ECs within 5 months thereafter. During the period of 6 months, while ad hoc arrangements have to continue, the 4th respondents as directed to strictly monitor the compliance of the conditions attached to the EC. This order will apply only to the sand quarries which are in operation pursuant to the grant of impugned ECs.

48. A striking point/feature emerging from the present litigation is the attitude and inaction on the part of the MoEF. As is evident from the EIA Notification, 2006, the MoEF is mandated to issue appropriate guidelines to categorize "B" projects into B1 and B2, from time to time. With regard to categorization of river sand mining projects, no guidelines were evolved by the MoEF from September 2006 to December, 2013. We are of the considered view that the present litigations would not have knocked the doors of the Tribunal if only the mandated guidelines were made available in time by the MoEF. In the instant case, as discussed earlier, the MoEF did not even flash its interest in the matter despite repeated communications from the SEIAA. We are indeed at a loss to understand or comprehend the reasons for the same. Reasons notwithstanding, the fact that the MoEF, the custodian of the Environment and Natural Resources of the country, is so callous and lethargic in developing mandated guidelines in respect of one of most important natural resources, namely the river sand is, to say the least, totally unacceptable. W e therefore direct the MoEF to be more accountable and vigilant in fulfilling its mandate concerning precious and most sought after natural resources and 51 facilitate Sustainable Development of human welfare projects. We do hope that the concerned officials in the MoEF would spend quality time to ponder over such matters of National importance and Public interest.

49. In the result all the appeals are disposed of with the following decision and direction.

50. In view of the economic and social needs and public interest at large, the Environmental Clearances originally granted by the 2 nd respondent/State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority based on the adhoc guidelines shall continue for a period of six months with a direction to the 4 th respondents to make necessary applications for obtaining Environmental Clearances based on the new guidelines issued by the MoEF which have come into force from 24.12.2013 The authorities issuing Environmental Clearances are directed to process the applications following the new guidelines cited above as per law for the grant of Environmental Clearances.

51. During the period of six months, the adhoc arrangements have to continue and the 4th respondents are directed to strictly follow and ensure the compliance of conditions attached to the Environmental Clearances. This order will apply only to the sand quarries which are in operation pursuant to the grant of impugned environmental clearances.

No cost.

(Justice M. Chockalingam) Judicial Member (Prof. Dr. R. Nagendran) Expert Member Chennai, 24th February, 2014 52