CUTTACK: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered a probe to ascertain the veracity of allegations of excess sand mining using excavators on Brahmani river bed in Lahunipara tehsil of Sundargarh district and the consequent environmental degradation.
NGT’s east zone bench in Kolkata ordered the probe on Wednesday basing on an application by Kandra Battachhatri and 21 other residents of villages near the Kenapali sand quarry. They alleged that unaccounted illegal mining of sand apart from causing environmental degradation is also resulting in loss of revenue for the State government.
The lessee has mined more sand than the permitted quantity and there is an alleged unholy nexus with the tehsildar who is allowing the activities to continue on day-to-day basis, they further alleged in their application. Advocate Sankar Prasad Pani appeared on behalf of the applicants.
A bench of Justice B Amit Sthalekar (judicial member) and Saibal Dasgupta (expert member) was of the opinion that the matter requires consideration as it involves environment.
Accordingly, the bench constituted a committee to enquire into the matter and submit a report along with environmental compensation amount that can be imposed on the lessee within four weeks.
The bench said the committee shall constitute representatives of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB), State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (Integrated Regional Office, Bhubaneswar) and District Collector Sundargarh.
The SEIAA will be the nodal agency of the committee, the bench said while issuing a direction for listing of the case on January 28, 2022.
The application sought intervention against mining operations in the sand quarry in violation of Standard Environment Clearance conditions, Consent to Operate conditions, Sustainable Sand Mining Guideline 2016 and other statutory norms.