CUTTACK: National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed displeasure over the gross dereliction of duty by revenue officials dealing with encroachment of government land by GM Iron and Steel Plant in Dhenkanal.
NGT's East Zone Bench in Kolkata hauled up the tehsildar concerned while taking stock of the report submitted by the probe panel constituted by it on Monday. The Bench of judicial member B Amit Sthalekar and expert member Saibal Dasgupta observed with surprise that the tehsildar has neither taken any action nor reported the matter at the relevant point of time to the District Magistrate concerned.
"The encroachment proceedings have been instituted as late as 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 which only shows connivance or gross dereliction of duty of the tehsildar with the offender," the bench stated.
Accordingly, it directed the Collector, Dhenkanal to file his personal affidavit explaining why appropriate action was not taken against the company and it was allowed to encroach on eight-acre of revenue forest land including 2.54 acres of non-forest government land.
The committee was constituted in response to a petition filed by Santunu Bhukta of Talcher and Simanta Jena of Kulei alleging violation of environmental rules by GM Iron and Steel Plant. The Bench observed that for environmental violations, GM Iron and Steel Plant was issued a closure notice on October 29, 2021 by the pollution control board but even after one year the pollution level, as evident from photographs, does not justify it being allowed to operate with full capacity vide order dated 28.01.2022 only on basis of a bank guarantee of Rs 11.85 lakh.
Directing listing of the matter on September 29, the Bench instructed the committee to submit a fresh inspection report on the plant as the report did not mention whether the plant is operating with a valid environmental clearance. "This is a serious lapse in the report by the committee," it observed.