ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mining Policy and Undermining Politics

The judgment of the Supreme Court in Prafulla Samantra and Anr v Union of India and Others (Writ Petition (civil) No 194/2014) on 2 August 2017, asking the mine leaseholders to deposit penalty with Odisha government for the benefits of tribals and area development for illegal mining in violation of environmental clearance, raises many interesting and perplexing issues related to policy, governance and politics.

Much earlier, Upendra Baxi in his provocative study the Indian Supreme Court and Politics (1980) had pertinently described the Supreme Court as a political institution, as the centre of political power and its decisions as political events. The aforesaid judgment is based on intergenerational equity principles in this era of climate change politics. The apex court has handed over the penalty on the existing mines to leaseholders in Kendujhar, Sundergarh and Mayurbhanj districts of Odisha, based on the calculation of excess mineral lifted over the permissible limit without any environmental clearance even within the mining area. It has laid down the principle of intergenerational equity while permitting the extent of minerals to be consumed by the present generation and has directed the central government to revisit the National Mineral Policy, 2008 to strengthen its conservation and mineral development.

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