Himachal High Court extends stay on stone crusher site of minister’s relative

Shimla: The Himachal High Court extended the stay on setting up a stone crusher by ministers relative in Dharampur assembly segment of Mandi district and sought clarification from the elementary education department about schools running in the vicinity of crusher’s proposed site.

A division bench consisting of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rajiv Sharma directed the education department to clarify whether there was a natural barriers shielding the schools at Longni, Shivdawala and Churu Ra Balh in Dharampur segment from stone crushers proposed to be installed nearby.

The judges passed the orders on a petition by Jagdish Chand and others who have stated that the proposed Ganpati stone crusher at Churu Ra Balh did not fulfill policy guidelines as it was only 220 meters away from an existing primary school institution.

Rather than asking the crusher to shift location, the school was shut down because of less student strength on April, 2010, the petitioners say in their plea.

The petitioners also alleged that de-notifying of the school was not an innocuous exercise nor in public interest, but was done to cater to commercial interests of the stone crusher owners who happen to be near relatives of the transport minister Mahender Singh.

Separately, one of the petitioners, Balbir Singh had challenged the government notification to shut down the primary school at Churu Ra Balh in another writ.

Passing orders in July, 201 the High Court had quashed the school closing down notification and asked the government to take appropriate decision.

With the government deciding to merge the school coming in the way of the proposed crusher with a nearby school, the court today asked the education department to state whether it would be re-opened, should student strength improve later.

The court also directed principal secretary forest to state whether any stone crusher in Sarkaghat area had encroached forest lands and river beds. If so, what action had been taken the court wants to know at the next hearing posted for 21st December.

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