New Delhi, February 24: The Haryana government hurrying to auction off what it calls the”remaining stones” of Khori Jamalpur and Sirohi may be a bid to bypass a new set of guidelines that Haryana officials agreed to during a meeting with the central empowered committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court.
These are now under consideration of SC and will probably be taken up
during the hearings in the matter between March 18-20.
The state government, at a meeting with the CEC and the Forest Survey of India on January 7,
had agreed to some conditions for mining in the Aravali. None of these figures in the auction
notice for Khori Jamalpur and Sirohi that it brought out on February 17. The revised guidelines if
they get the approval of the court will destroy the monopoly of one lease holder for the entire area
and also put brakes on the mindless plunder of the Aravali by imposing stringent riders.
The decisions include no mining lease will exceed 30 hectares; each lease will be divided into two
roughly equal areas and mining will not be allowed in one till the other has been reclaimed; and
an Aravali rehabilitation fund will be set up.
Both the quarries which are going to be auctioned off on March 3 are more than the stipulated
area for a single mining lease as decided at the meeting. Khori Jamalpur, with a reserve price of
Rs 109.68 crore, is 60.4 hectares. If the state government had gone by the decisions of the
meeting, there should have been two mining leases there. Sirohi is 49.37 hectares in area, with a
reserve price of Rs 8.96 crore. Issuing one mining lease here is again a violation.
The decision to break up the mining areas into smaller zones, according to the minutes, was
taken to promote “healthy competition” among allottees. Till February 5, one person Som Sethi
held the lease for mining in all 267 hectares of mining land in the two villages. Incidentally, Sethi
has reportedly already held meetings urging locals to hold on to their vehicles and labour as he
would restart the mines by March.
Director (mines) Arun Kumar, who was present at the meeting with CEC, said: “These minutes
are under consideration of the Supreme Court and what we are auctioning off now are the
remaning stones. It is not as if we are in a hurry but construction materials are required and the
new set of guidelines even if they are approved will take at least one to two years to come into
The haste in issuing the auction notice without waiting for the High Court hearing on February 25
of a mining extension plea by Sethi, officials point out, could have been because the government
did not want to get “trapped” in these guidelines. The minutes clearly say that all mining leases in
the Aravali should be revoked in view of the falling water table, the past history of blatant violation
of environmental laws and a host of adverse reports by various committees. “If the minutes are
accepted, the pillage in the name of mining that has been going on all these years may stop.
They want to rake in the money as long as it is possible to do so,” said a senior official.