NGT committee to probe illegal mining in Dhenkanal

Advocates Sankar Prasad Pani and Ashutosh Padhy represented the petitioners before the tribunal in virtual mode.
National Green Tribunal
National Green Tribunal

CUTTACK: Alleged illegal quarrying involving excess mining and blasting operations at the Tolarpasi road metal (black stone) quarry under Gondia tehsil in Dhenkanal district by a private lessee have come under the National Green Tribunal (NGT) scanner.

A five-member joint committee constituted by the tribunal has been asked to submit its report on the activities in the quarry within three weeks. The committee includes senior scientists of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) and State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), senior officer or representative of the director of Mines and Geology, divisional forest officer, Dhenkanal or his senior representative and collector Dhenkanal or his representative not below the rank of additional district magistrate.

NGT’s East Zone bench in Kolkata registered the case in response to a petition which alleged that the private lessee in collusion with government authorities has been illegally mining black stone in all the quarries at Tolarpasi, clearing vegetation in the area and carrying out blasting operations without permit, causing damage to the local ecology and environment.

Sanjib Dhal and four other residents of nearby Nihalprasad village filed the petition which also alleged that the Sadhu Gosein temple located within 100 metre of the quarry has developed cracks due to the uncontrolled blasting. The temple is a sacred place for the Mahima cult believers, the petition said. Advocates Sankar Prasad Pani and Ashutosh Padhy represented the petitioners before the tribunal in virtual mode.

Observing that the matter requires consideration, the bench of B Amit Sthalekar (Judicial Member) and Arun Kumar Verma (Expert Member) said, “Considering the allegations made in the petition, we deem it appropriate to constitute a joint committee which shall visit the site and submit its report with regard to the allegations within three weeks.”

“The collector and district magistrate, Dhenkanal shall be the nodal body for all logistic purposes and shall file the fact-finding report on affidavit. In case violations are found, the committee shall recommend remedial measures, if any,” the bench said and fixed July 25 for further consideration of the matter.

According to the petition, the lessee was granted environmental clearance (EC) on October 18, 2021 for annual production of 20,034 cubic metre of road metal or black stone from the a 12.25-acre area of the Tolarpasi quarry. But the lessee was mining much beyond the approved quantity specified in the EC, the petition alleged.

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