Supreme Court Cracks Down on Illegal Aravalli Mining

The Supreme Court, recognizing the delicate dance between progress and environmental preservation, issued a stern call on Thursday to halt illegal mining activities in the Aravalli region. Justices B R Gavai and Abhay S Oka emphasized the responsibility of both the Centre and state governments to crack down on illicit mining operations and hold accountable any officials complicit in these activities.

The bench said that the plundering of the Aravallis through illegal mining must cease. Authorities must act decisively to safeguard these natural wonders. 

Otherwise, what purpose do these skeletal remains of mountains serve? 

The bench also stated that we must strike a harmonious chord between fostering sustainable development and protecting our precious environment.

The Supreme Court is currently addressing a case involving alleged illegal mining activities within the Aravalli range. In 2009, the Supreme Court implemented a comprehensive ban on mining major and minor minerals in the environmentally sensitive Aravalli hills. 

Advocate K. Parameshwar, acting as the court’s amicus curiae, strongly recommended halting new mining leases. He criticized the Rajasthan government’s narrow definition of the Aravalli Range, which excluded hills under 100 meters in height, as deceptive.

Justice Oka expressed concern over this classification, describing it as “very problematic.” Parameshwar emphasized the vital role of the Aravalli as a natural barrier, preventing dry winds from Afghanistan and Pakistan from reaching the Gangetic Plains. He warned that losing the Aravalli would allow arid climates from neighboring countries to infiltrate the region.

Previously, the Rajasthan government informed the court that the issue of distinguishing between the Aravalli hills and the Aravalli ranges, particularly concerning mining activities, requires the Supreme Court’s determination. The Supreme Court expressed an initial impression that if the state believes that mining operations within the Aravalli range pose environmental risks, it has the authority to prohibit such activities in that region as well.

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