The high court has laid down guidelines for establishment of stone-crushing units to maintain ecological balance in the state. The Bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary has directed the state government and the Pollution Control Board to take into account pollution that such a unit was likely to cause in nearby water sources, besides flora and fauna.

Court said that the board could not be allowed to act as a mute spectator. Being a statutory regulator, it has to independently assess the impact which the project was likely to cause on air and water.

The court said before permission for mining was accorded; the Director of Industries is to verify the correctness of the report of the joint inspection committee, approving the establishment of a stone-crushing unit. It said there would not be automatic renewal of registration of a unit. All statutory authorities shall ensure disposal of applications for renewal filed by owners of units within the prescribed period. There will be no deemed continuation of registration of a unit.

The court further clarified that it will be the duty of the owner of a unit as well as the authority concerned to ensure that the application for renewal was disposed of in accordance with law within the stipulated time. Court warned that it will take disciplinary action against defaulting officials. To protect and conserve the environment, the owner of such a unit would ensure that at least three rows of tall, fast-growing species of trees were planted around the unit.

The Bench also directed the Chief Secretary to constitute a committee comprising all secretaries concerned, including the Secretary (Fisheries).