New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has slammed the Environment Ministry (MoEF) for failing to produce data related to asbestos mining in various states.
"MoEF is expected to know what is happening in the field of mining the environment in the entire country," the green bench observed as MoEF Under Secretary could not submit data on asbestos mining from various state governments, mining departments and Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees.
"By shifting his responsibility cast on him (MoEF Under Secretary) by virtue of the order dated November 21, 2014, he ought not to have just avoided to remain present before us and sought his discharge from the compliance of order by merely tendering an affidavit, particularly when we have confronted with many mute issues in respect of asbestos mining nation- wide," a bench headed by Justice U D Salvi said.
The Tribunal also directed MoEF Under Secretary, C S Thakur, to be present on July 8 and produce complete records related to asbestos mining.
"It is true that the states are the nodal agencies who maintain the registers of mining leases and deal with the business of granting or renewing mining leases and ultimately file the consolidated annual returns of all mining leases granted or renewed to the Comptroller General Indian Bureau of Mines.
"Nonetheless MoEF is expected to know what is happening in the field of mining vis-?-vis the environment in the entire country. There should have been a candid and cogent disclosure regarding the asbestos mining in each of states countrywide and its particulars such as the running and closure of such mines and the manner in which the mines have been closed," the bench said.
The Tribunal was hearing a plea by NGO Environics Trust and environmentalist Amar Singh seeking directions to authorities to immediately stop all asbestos mining operations in the country and ensure their scientific closure.
The Tribunal also directed the state governments of Rajasthan and Odisha to file a report regarding scientific closure of the asbestos mines and the instances of asbestosis in the states.