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Indian Case Summary

K.M. Chinnappa, T.N. Godavarman … vs Union Of India And Ors on 30 October, 2002 – Case Summary

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In the case of K.M. Chinnappa, T.N. Godavarman vs Union of India and Ors on 30 October 2002, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a significant environmental issue. The petitioners, K.M. Chinnappa and T.N. Godavarman Thirumalpad, raised concerns about the alleged destruction of flora and fauna in and around Kudremukh National Park, a part of the Western Ghats, due to mining activities conducted by Kudremukh Iron Ore Co. Ltd. (KIOCL). The forests in the area are among 18 internationally recognized “Hotspots” for bio-diversity conservation in the world.

Facts

The case originated from a petition filed by Sri K.M. Chinnappa, describing himself as a trustee of Wildlife First. The petition challenged the orders issued by the States of Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, which, according to him, violated the provisions contained in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The petitioners alleged that KIOCL was conducting mining activities in violation of the orders passed by the Supreme Court on 12.12.1996 and 14.2.2000. The main reliefs sought were to direct the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to withdraw the illegal “temporary working permission” issued by it and stop mining activities, direct KIOCL to stop polluting the Bhadra river due to open cast mining, take action against KIOCL for illegal encroachment in the forests and for destruction of forests in the Kudremukh National Park, and to stop KIOCL from laying new slurry pipe line in the forests of the National Park.

Issues

The main issue was whether the mining activities conducted by KIOCL were in violation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and the orders passed by the Supreme Court. The court had to consider whether the mining activities were causing irreversible damage to the environment and the biodiversity of the Kudremukh National Park.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that by destroying nature and the environment, man is committing matricide, having in a way killed Mother Earth. The court noted that technological excellence, growth of industries, and economic gains have led to the irreversible depletion of natural resources. The court also observed that indifference to the grave consequences, lack of concern, and foresight have contributed in large measures to the alarming position.

The court also took note of the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), constituted under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The CEC recommended that KIOCL be asked to wind up its operations within a period of five years or on the exhaustion of the oxidized weathered secondary ore, whichever is earlier, in the already broken up area. The CEC also recommended several conditions to be followed during the winding up period.

Judgment

The judgment in this case is not provided in the content extracted from the webpage. However, the court’s observations and the recommendations of the CEC suggest that the court was inclined towards protecting the environment and biodiversity of the Kudremukh National Park. The court’s decision would likely have been based on balancing the need for economic development represented by the mining activities of KIOCL and the need to protect and preserve the environment and biodiversity of the National Park.