CUTTACK: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has rapped a joint committee over shoddy investigation into illegal sand mining in Subarnarekha river at Benapur under Basta tehsil of Balasore district and directed for another inspection.
The NGT’s east zone bench in Kolkata issued the order on Friday after it found that all the findings contained in the joint verification report submitted on July 6 by the committee were based upon the observations of the tehsildar of Basta.
The report said the joint visit was conducted but the river was in flood and no mining activity was going on. It was ascertained from the tehsildar that mining activities have already been stopped earlier as the lease period expired on May 1, 2021, it said.
Expressing displeasure over it, the bench of Justice B Amit Sthalekar (Judicial Member) and Saibal Dasgupta (Expert Member) said, “We find the report of the committee to be quite shoddy. It is not mentioned anywhere as to why the committee did not take the assistance of the satellite images at least six months prior to the onset of monsoon and up to the date of expiry of the lease i.e. 01.05.2021 as it could have been determined from satellite images, depth of the available sand in the riverbed, the amount of sand mined and whether heavy vehicles were used”. The green panel has asked the committee to submit its fresh report within six weeks.
The committee was constituted on June 2 after Saral Kumar Parida, a resident of Basta, filed a petition seeking intervention against illegal sand mining in the river by using heavy machines that are causing environmental degradation and changing the course of the river. The committee included Balasore Collector, Member Secretary of State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority, senior scientist of State Pollution Control Board and mining officer of Baripada circle.
The committee shall submit its report reflecting the status as existing prior to six months and up to the date of expiry of the lease, the bench said while directing for listing the case on August 24.