Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal laterite stone mining in Khurdha district, Odisha, 05/05/2020
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Bidu Bhusan Harichandan & Others Vs District Collector Khurdha & dated 05/05/2020 regarding illegal laterite stone mining at 40 different sites in the Khurdha District of Odisha to an extent of about 500 acres encompassing several villages including Tapanga, Anda and JhinkiJhari under Nijigarh Tapang Panchayat. The area involves amongst others cashew jungle, gramya jungle and gochar land. Neither Environmental Clearance nor Consent to Operate have been obtained from the respective authorities. In the process of the mining activities, trees are being felled for clearing the area.
Considering the seriousness of the questions, directions had been issued upon the State Government to prepare an action plan to deal with the illegal laterite mining and to furnish details in relation to:
(i) Assessment of the damage caused to the area.
(ii) Assessment of environmental compensation which shall be done in consultation with the CPCB which has formulated a guideline in this regard. The action plan was required to be filed by 14.01.2020 along with timelines but on 17.03.2020, when the case was taken up, instead of filing the report during the intervening period of more than 2 months an application was sent by e-mail for adjournment on the ground of Covid-19 epidemic. Even till May 5, neither a report was filed nor anyone appeared on behalf of the State through Video Conference. The NGT grants one more opportunity “in the interest of justice” to the State to file a report and comply with the directions of its earlier order before July 27, 2020.