BALASORE: The State Government is losing crores of rupees in terms of royalty as illegal quarrying in most of the stone quarries in Nilagiri block of the district continues unabated despite strict warnings by the Green Tribunal.
Apart from the illegal extraction of stone from the quarries, frequent blasting and unauthorised quarrying by compromising environmental stipulations and without pollution clearance have been posing danger to the localities.
Sources said while no quarry has been officially leased out in Begunia area, the mafias have quarried nearly 25,000 truckloads of stone worth around Rs 10 crore in 47 mines. Had the quarries been leased out, the Government would have received nearly Rs 2.5 crore as revenue. Similarly, the mafias have quarried around 15,000 truckloads of stone worth around Rs seven crore from 35 quarries in Machhua area. Even as one quarry in the area has been leased out to a person at one time royalty of Rs 1.32 lakh, given the quantity of stones quarried from these quarries, the Government should have got nearly Rs 1.5 crore.
At KP Mahal area while only five quarries have been leased out at Rs seven lakh, now altogether 34 quarries are running illegally and nearly 20,000 truckloads of stones worth around Rs eight crore have been quarried.
Similar is the situation at Kathagochhi where though only eight quarries have been leased out, 68 quarries are running illegally. While 65 quarries are running unauthorisedly at Mahisapata, the mafias have quarried more than 40,000 trips of stone worth around Rs 20 crore at Gujadiha for which no revenue has been paid to the Government.
Although the guideline says no quarry on the land owned by Scheduled Tribes (ST) and forest land would be leased out, the revenue officials have given lease to 36 persons by violating the rules. Not only from private land, quarrying is rampant in reserve forest and wildlife sanctuary. Repeated complaints from villagers have failed to evoke any response from the authorities.
Santosh Behera, a local, said the impact of blasting is so high that not only mud-walled houses, the brick buildings in 3 km to 5 km radius too have developed cracks. Many quarries are using explosives without permission.
The village roads are also full of potholes due to frequent plying of overloaded trucks. No action has been taken despite several complaints. The people are falling victims to the mafia and official nexus, he added.
Locals claimed that the leaseholders carry out blasting operations and crushing activities by violating the Environment Pollution Act, 1986, Odisha Mines and Minerals Concession Act, 1990 and contravening Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Though in February, the Green Tribunal had asked not to allow quarrying to those who do not have environmental clearance and blasting permission, no tangible step has been taken by the administration against the violators.
Collector Pramod Kumar Das said local tehsildar and forest officials have been asked to strictly follow the orders of the Tribunal and conduct raids on unauthorised quarries.
State Govt is losing royalty of nearly Rs 2.5 crore in Begunia area
Mafias quarried nearly 25,000 truckloads of stone worth Rs 10 crore from 47 mines in Begunia
One quarry in Machhua has been leased out to a person at one time royalty of Rs 1.32 lakh
Govt should have got nearly Rs 1.5 crore from 35 quarries in Machhua
At KP Mahal, only 5 quarries were leased out at Rs 7 lakh while 34 quarries are running illegally