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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.

(Source: IANS)

One Response to “Natural resources are also for future generations: SC”

  1. Jagadiswara Rao R

    As minerals are non-renewable, the traditional definition of sustainable development demanded their mining only sparingly despite higher demand to make them available for the future generations. But, as per the latest definition of sustainable development practiced by progressive countries all over the world, minerals could be exploited to any extent to meet the existing demand both within and outside the country as long as they could be mined at an economic and internationally competitive price. It is not technically feasible to conserve a mineral deposit by simply postponing its mining, as such a move would make the potential land to be put to some other use such as construction of an irrigation project, township, industry etc and mining of the mineral deposit at that locality at a future date becomes virtually impossible.

    If any country decides not to mine minerals in adequate quantities to meet the existing demand within and outside the country, the debt burden to be borne by the future generations gets increased. This is definitely more dangerous to the posterity.

    Despite over-exploitation of minerals, the needs of the future generations could still be met through
    1. New discoveries of mineral deposits, which could be made by deploying innovative and sophisticated methods of mineral exploration using latest discoveries made in the field of science and technology,
    2. Earmarking much higher investments towards mineral exploration,
    3. Use of low-grade deposits, which could be put to use through advances in technology and metallurgy that allows drastic reduction in the cutoff grade,
    4. Mineral exploitation in remote and offshore areas where mining could not be hitherto taken up economically,
    5. Recycling of metals and minerals under use, and
    6. Use of today’s waste as tomorrow’s resource owing to advances in the field of material sciences.

    R. Jagadiswara Rao
    Former Professor of Geology
    Sri Venkateswara University
    Tirupati, AP 517502
    + 94401-84012, +98669-36499


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