New Delhi: "Can you enact a law which would be in conflict with central law?"
This was National Green Tribunal`s (NGT) poser to Madhya Pradesh government which said its minor mineral rules permit district environmental committees to grant clearance for sand mining on land that measures five hectares or less.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar today observed that according to central law, it is the power of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to grant clearance for sand mining on land smaller lands and in rest of the cases the go ahead is given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
"But you have taken the power (of SEIAA) and given it to the district environmental committees. How can you do that? Can you enact a law which would be in conflict with central law," the bench asked.
The tribunal was hearing the state government`s plea for modification of the bench`s August 5 order by which it had banned sand mining in rivers across the country.
The state has contended that the Supreme Court while directing that environment clearance is required even for sand mining on land measuring five hectares or less, had also said the procedure of granting clearance be simplified and in this regard they had modified their Minor Mineral Rules to grant power to district environmental committees to approve removal of sand from smaller plots.
The state government`s counsel was, however, unable to answer the bench`s query- whether it can enact a law which is in conflict with central law- and sought time to take instructions.
Meanwhile, the state`s plea for modification of the NGT`s August 5 order was opposed by senior advocate Raj Panjwani, appearing for petitioner NGT Bar Association.
In view of the objections of the petitioner and time sought for instructions by the counsel for Madhya Pradesh, the bench listed the matter on September 24 for hearing arguments on whether state can enact a law in conflict with central law.