(1.) This Writ Petition [Public Interest Litigation] is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India by the petitioner Paryavaran Bachav Samity, a charitable trust registered under Bombay Public Trust Act and also under the Gujarat Cooperative Societies Act, 1961. The main object of the Trust, as per the constitution of the Trust, is to create awareness about environment and to take steps and undertake activities for maintenance of the environment. In this writ petition, rights of local citizens of villages Rampara, Bhetali, Kukaras and Anandpara are sought to be protected as the respondent No.13 Gujarat Ambuja Cement Co. Ltd. has grossly violated the terms and conditions of the lease granted by the State Government for mining purpose. It is the case of the petitioner that due to illegal mining of limestone and other minerals by respondent No.13 a few hundred crores of value of mineral was excavated in collusion with officers of Department of Revenue, Collector, Geology and Mining, etc. and also committed breach of various provisions of State and Central Act viz. Gujarat Panchayat Act, Environment Protection Act, Water [Prevention and Control of Pollution] Act, 1974, Mines, and Minerals [Regulation and Development] Act, 1957 and Rules made thereunder.
(2.) Mr. N.M.Kapadia, learned counsel for the petitioner, has taken this court through various averments made in this petition and submitted that it is necessary for the Government agency to file criminal case under Sections 378 to 380 of the Indian Penal Code and further upon representations made by the petitioner, competent authority of Department of Geology and Mining, State of Gujarat issued notice to respondent No.13 for recovery of Rs.4,95,81,840/. It is further submitted that the above measure is not adequate, and therefore, this Court may appoint SubCommittee to examine the extent of damage caused by the company to agriculturists and environment and matter should be referred to concerned Collector and Gujarat Pollution Control Board and appropriate order in this regard may be passed accordingly.
2.1 It is further submitted that since the issue is taken up by the President of the petitioner Trust, the main trustee of the trust has received various threats from the officers of the company. It is further submitted that though there is blatant breach of various provisions of the Acts and Rules, as stated earlier, and excavation of mineral was illegally carried out by respondent No.13 and even respondent No.13 encroached upon the gaucher land, no action is taken by the authorities of Government, and therefore, intervention of this Court is solicited in this Public Interest Litigation.
2.2 Inter alia, it is submitted that mining lease is granted to the company for lime stone and other minerals for a period of 30 years upon conditions to pay royalty, surface rent, water rate, cess, etc. under the provisions of Mines and Minerals [Regulation and Development] Act, 1957 and Rules made thereunder. However, if any illegal activity is noticed or surfaced on record with regard to mining activities, the District collector and Geologist are to be directed to take immediate action in accordance with law. Learned counsel has given certain instances about breach of conditions of lease by respondent No.13 company and prayed to grant reliefs as prayed in this petition.
(3.) Upon issuance of notice, respondent Government authorities and respondent No.13 have filed replies, wherein the allegations levelled by the petitioner are denied and it is submitted that issue of illegal excavation of mineral is already settled and the company has compounded the matter by paying Rs.4,95,81,840/ in the year 2009 and the compromise was entered into with the Government which is legal and valid. The respondent No.13 has also doubted motive and intention of the petitioner that just to harass and threaten the respondent with a view to receive reward @10% of the recovery amount as stated in his notice, the petitioner has filed this petition. It is further submitted that no mining activity is carried out after 2008, however, with regard to appointment of any committee for verification, it was left to the discretion of this court to issue any direction, as may be deemed fit and proper.;