HC refuses to vacate stay against stone quarries

  • | Monday | 20th September, 2021

Chennai, Sep 20 (PTI) The Madras High Court on Monday refused to vacate the interim stay granted in 2019 with regard to operation of stone crushing units in Tamil Nadu. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu refused to vacate the stay while passing further interim orders on the PIL petitions from two individuals, today. Originally, taking into account the pollution caused by stone crushing units, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had issued a set of guidelines in 2004, stipulating no such quarries can be allowed within 500 meters from residential areas, national and state highways and places of worship. There must be a gap of at least one km between one unit and the other, it had said. However, the TNPCB in 2019, relaxed the conditions. Challenging this, a PIL was filed in the High Court in July same year which granted the stay. Another person also moved the High Court with a plea to ban the crushing units functioning near a school in Choolagiri in Krishnagiri district. After clubbing both the cases, the bench observed that the principal matter is the petition filed in 2019 on which an injunction subsists and by an order dated July 19 this year, the views of the TNPCB were sought upon expert scientific opinion being obtained. The government authorities, including the TNPCB, submitted that the matter has been referred to the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), which has said that a study has to be conducted and a minimum of six months would be required before any report can be furnished. Meanwhile, the quarry owners approached the High Court to vacate the stay. They contended that they have run out of funds upon having acquired machinery and equipment for the purpose of undertaking quarrying activity. The bench, however, rejected the contention. There is no case for the subsisting order of injunction to be vacated at this stage, it said and added the time sought by TNPCB on the basis of the representation of NEERI appears to be far too long. While NEERI is permitted to furnish its detailed, final report within six months from date, a preliminary report with possible prima facie findings should be made available towards the end of October. This is to ensure that those entities which may have substantially invested in machines and equipment in contemplation of the imminent commencement of the quarrying business, may then to be allowed to commence the business if a prima facie view is expressed in support of the recommendations of July 31, 2019 adopted by TNPCB, which have been stayed in course of the present proceedings, the judges said. They posted the cases for December 12 to decide on the further course of action, based on the reports pertaining to the study conducted by NEERI and the one pertaining to the quarrying activities. PTI COR SA APR APR

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