The Supreme Court Wednesday said the right to life belongs not only to the present generation but also the future generations when it comes to the exploitation of natural resources.
“It is not just right to life of present generation but also of the future generations,” said the apex court green bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik, Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice F.M.I Kalifulla as it was told of the rampant iron ore mining that had taken place in Goa.
Holding that mining activities should be “legal, in accordance with the rule of law and in conformity with the constitution”, the court observed that inter-generational equity has been spoken of many a time by the apex court but its parameters have not been spelt out.
The court’s observation came in the course of the hearing of a petition filed by NGO Goa Foundation which has sought that the mining leases should not be renewed in the state till a cumulative environment impact assessment was done by an expert group.
Appearing for the NGO, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that 97 percent of the iron ore mined from Goa was not used for domestic consumption. Comparing the mining companies with vultures, Bhushan told the court that these companies had not only destroyed the forest, water bodies, agriculture and bio-diversity but also harmed tribals.
Bhushan told the court that all that the state government got by way of royalty was Rs.61 for a tonne of legally mined iron ore. “It does not add to the revenue of the state. If it substantially adds to the revenue of the state, then it can be used in the social sector,” Justice Patnaik said.
Bhushan said the miners were involved in multiple violations of leases. The lease holders were issued notice by the Goa government a year back but no follow up action was taken.
Bhushan said that Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parikar as the then leader of opposition and head of the state legislature’s Public Accounts Committee gave a very strong report but now as the chief minister he was singing a different tune.
“If you are on this side (opposition), you oppose, if you are in government you govern. This is all in democracy,” remarked Justice Patnaik.