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Himachal HC directs CS to probe delay in auction of mineral bearing sites

The Court directed to assure that the said inquiry would be conducted by the CS in a free, fair and impartial manner and no official, officer shall unnecessarily be shielded or protected.

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

Himachal Pradesh High Court of has directed the Chief Secretary to personally hold an inquiry against all those officials or officers on whose part the identification or auction of the mineral bearing sites is being unnecessarily delayed.

He has also been directed to find out as to why it is taking so long for putting the sites to auction.

The Court further directed to assure that the said inquiry would be conducted by the CS in a free, fair and impartial manner and no official, officer shall unnecessarily be shielded or protected.

Division Bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia passed these orders on a petition taken up suo-moto by the Court as Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on a petition filed by the residents of Up-Mahals Dhandri and Shiv Nagar and Takarla village, Amb Tehsil, Una district.

The petitioners have alleged about the decreasing water level in the Gharni Khad in Una due to excessive mining, which has affected the livelihood and the ecosystem of the area.

During hearing of the petition, it was observed by the Court that the respondent state took no steps to ensure for the timely completion for the auction proceedings and in auction of some of the sites, no bidders participated.

The Court exhorted that when illegal mining goes unabated and unchecked, obviously, no person would be interested in bidding and making himself accountable and until, the respondents concerned themselves check illegal mining, no bidder would come forward.

On the aforesaid indifferent attitude of the official respondents, the Court expressed its view that the respondents have forgotten that the public welfare is the highest law and that the offices entrusted to them are sacred trusts and are meant for use and not abuse.

During its earlier hearing, it had come to the notice of the Court that despite being 44,400 hectares of mineral bearing area available with the State, only minuscule area of 2350 hectares which barely accounts for 5 percent has been granted or proposed for mineral concession.

The Court had directed the CS to file affidavit in this behalf. The Court now posted the matter for 28 September, for submission of the inquiry report.