Patna High Court on Thursday vacated an interim stay order restraining the government from proceeding with the auction process for settlement of sand ghats across the state.
It is although subject to the outcome of a writ petition on sand mining, which has not yet been disposed of by the court.
The bench of Justice Kishore Kumar Mandal made it clear that the government was being allowed to go ahead with the auction on the condition that it was subject to the plea’s outcome.
The interim order is significant in the backdrop that it would pave the way for settlement of sand ghats. The ghats could be given on lease for 2014 for extracting sand from riverbeds.
The government has also been directed to make the condition known to people in the fresh auction notice.
The mines and geology department would issue the notice for inviting tenders for settlement of sand ghats for 2014.
Posting the matter for next hearing on February 10, the court passed the direction on an interlocutory application filed by the government and other petitions seeking the lift of the stay order.
A single bench of the high court, had on December 20 last year, stayed the auction process for giving fresh sand mining lease for 2014.
The current auction notice inviting tender, issued on December 5, was for the settlement of sand ghats for the whole of 2014. The bench of Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh had stayed the process on the ground that the notice did not have the mandatory environmental clearance.
“Considering the environmental impact, I am constrained to pass order directing the state not to hold auctions for any such lease anywhere in the state till full environmental clearances are not obtained because permitting such an auction would be permitting the state to violate with impunity the law laid down by the apex court and making a mockery of the whole situation,” Justice Singh had said.
The single bench’s stay was significant because sand mining was stopped from January 1, 2014, as the lease available with persons/firms for the jobs expired on December 31, 2013.
Principal additional advocate-general Lalit Kishore said: “Keeping in mind the order’s implications, the government filed the interlocutory application. The government contended that it had already framed its new sand policy in terms of Supreme Court’s order on Haryana.”
The application has also been filed before the Supreme Court for modifying its order for taking prior clearance from the ministry of environment and forests on the ground that the geographical structure of Haryana was quite different from that of Bihar.
Kishore contended that there was no requirement for obtaining environmental clearance from the ministry for sand mining in Bihar.