NGT orders probe into illegal mining at Khurda stone quarry
CUTTACK: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday ordered a high-level probe into allegations of illegal mining operations at Damanbhuin laterite stone quarry at Tangi tehsil in Khurda district. Ajay Behera, a resident of Jankia area had filed a petition alleging that a lessee permitted to extract only 1,500 cum of laterite stone from around 0.37 acre, has been operating on an area of 10 acre for which no quarrying lease was granted.
Advocate Sankar Prasad Pani made submissions on behalf of the petitioner seeking direction to the director of Mines and Geology to assess the extent/quantum of minor minerals including morrum and laterite stone excavated illegally and its market value, cost of restitution and environmental compensation and recover the same from the lessee.
A direction to the district collector to initiate criminal proceedings under sections 379, 420 and 120 B of IPC and section 19 of Environment Protection Act, 1986 against the lessee and also tehsildar (Tangi) was also sought by the petitioner. “Considering the allegations made, we deem it appropriate to constitute a committee which shall visit the site and submit its report with regard to the allegations within three weeks”, the bench comprising Justice B Amit Sthalekar (judicial member) and Dr Arun Kumar Verma (expert member) said while fixing November 2 for further consideration on the matter.
The Bench also said, “In case violations are found, the committee shall recommend penalty as well as environmental compensation and also suggest remedial measures, if any, as well as action under Rule 51 of Odisha Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2016.”