CHENNAI: While directing the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to submit an interim report with prima facie findings by the end of next month, the Madras High Court has turned down a plea by operators of stone crushing units to allow their operations by complying with conditions and subject to the outcome of the case.
The interim stay on freezing stone crushing operations, after the revised guidelines of the TNPCB allowing such units in close proximity, was granted in 2019 following a public interest petition filed by EV Sampath. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu said, “There is no case for the subsisting order of injunction to be vacated at this stage.”
The judges noted that the time (six months) sought by the National Environmental Engineering Institute (NEERI) appears to be “far too long”. However, allowing NEERI to furnish the detailed final report within six months, the judges ordered that a preliminary report with possible prima facie findings should be made available towards the end of October.
This is to ensure those entities who have invested in machines and equipments for quarrying may be allowed to commence work if a prima facie view is expressed in favour of the recommendations of July 31, 2019 adopted by TNPCB, they stated.
The judges clubbed another petition filed by PV Chinnannan seeking to ban quarrying unit located close to a school in Shoolagiri in Krishnagiri district with the principal case, observing that the government pleader has stated that eight persons were arrested in connection with illegal quarrying. They also directed for submission of a status report before the next hearing.
They posted the cases for the second week of 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 undertaken in Krishnagiri district.
Preliminary NEERI report sought
The judges allowed NEERI to furnish a detailed report within six months, but ordered for a preliminary report to be made available towards the end of October