BHUBANESWAR: In a significant order, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), East Zone Bench has directed the State administration to not allow sand mining on the Brahmani river bed at Dharmasala tehsil of Jajpur district without environment clearance.
Acting on a petition filed by a Jajpur-based social activist Satish Biswal alleging rampant illegal mining on the river bed, the NGT bench has restrained the Dharmasala tehsildar from issuing any temporary or permanent permit for sand mining to persons who have not been granted environment clearances from the competent authority under Rule 27B of Odisha Minor Minerals Concession Rules, 2004.
The State Government, Jajpur Collector, Dharmasala tehsildar and Member Secretary, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Odisha have also been directed to take appropriate action against those involved in illegal sand mining from the river bed.
The bench comprising judicial member Justice PK Ray and expert member Prof PC Mishra has asked the Government and local administration to file their action taken reports within four weeks.
The petitioner drew attention of the NGT to rampant illegal mining on the river bed under Dharmasala tehsil that has begun to have a disastrous effect on the local environment and landscape. Brahmani, the second largest river of the State after Mahanadi, flows a major stretch through Jajpur district.
"Indiscriminate sand mining has disturbed the flow pattern of the river water and has now threatened the embankment at Brundadeipur and Jenapur. It has caused serious environmental degradation and ecological impact but no Environmental Impact Assessment has ever taken place in areas earmarked for Mining, especially on the river beds," he alleged.
The petitioner alleged that no environment clearance has been obtained for river bed mining in Dharmasala tehsil though there are four sites identified where sand mining has been taking place for the last several years..
While praying for restraining the administration from allowing mining without environment clearance as per law, the petitioner also sought directions for rehabilitation of already mined out areas in Brahmani river under Dharmasala tehsil. An independent enquiry should also be conducted on excess extraction of sand than the permissible limit and the amount be recovered from violators along with fixing accountability on officials responsible.