Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra Dehradun and others (Petitioners) v. State of U.P. and others (Respondents)
The Supreme Court received a writ petition from Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra regarding the operation of lime-stone quarries in the Mussoorie Hill range, India. It was argued that the quarries caused a hazard to healthy environment and affected the perennial water springs. The Court appointed an expert committee (the “Bhargav Committee”) for the purpose of inspecting the lime-stone quarries. They divided all lime-stone quarries into three categories according to the grade of the adverse impact of the mining operations (category A had the least pronounced adverse impact, category B had a more pronounced adverse impact and category C had been directed to be closed down). The Court was of the view that lime-stone quarrying and excavation of the lime-stone deposits seemed to affect the perennial water springs. The environmental disturbance had however to be weighed in the balance against the need of lime-stone quarrying for industrial purposes in the country. It decided that category C quarries should not be allowed to be operated and a number of the quarries listed in category B should not be operated as well. Those quarries of category A were divided into two groups depending whether they were located inside or outside of the city limits of Mussoorie. Those outside of the city limits were allowed to be operated. For those within the city limits the Court appointed another expert committee that would examine the possibility to operate. The Court was conscious that as a result of its order, the workmen employed in the closed quarries will be thrown out of their employment. It emphasized though that afforestation and soil conservation programmes would have to be taken up in the closed quarries and ordered that the Government of India should, as far as practicable, provide employment to these workmen in the afforestation and soil conservation programmes.
UNEP/UNDP/Dutch Government Joint Project on Environmental Law in Africa, Compendium of Judicial Decisions on Matters related to Environment, National Decisions, Volume I, Page 275