The Gujarat High Court today ordered shutting down of 67 sandmining activities units which continued to operate without renewing their leases in the Gir Sanctuary which is the only abode of Asiatic lions.
A two-judge bench of the High Court, comprising Justice Jayant Patel and Justice G B Shah, passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL).
The order came after the Gujarat forest department submitted that the 67 units would not be given 'No Objection Certificates (NOC)' to mine on the banks of the Shetrunji river in the Gir Sanctuary area.
Lease periods of all 67 units ended in 2014 and their proposals to extend their leases were pending before the state government.
The High Court acted in response to a PIL filed by a Surat city-based citizen Rajkumar Sutaria who alleged that illegal mining in the area threatened the lives of wild animals like Asiatic lions, bears, hyneas and golden jackals.
"Though the Gir Asiatic lion sanctuary is protected as an eco-sensitive zone where no construction or development activities can take place in a radius of 10 km, mining in the Shetrunji river has been going on, threatening the existence of wildlife," the petition alleged.