Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal sand mining in Subarnarekha river, Odisha, 09/06/2020

  • 09/06/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Laxmidhar Palai & Others Vs District Collector, Balasore & Others dated 09/06/2020.

The matter related to violations of pollution norms by sand mining operators in the Subarnarekha river in respect of Jaleswar Tehsil, River Block Ka and Kha covering 5.665 ha and 5.261 ha respectively in Balasore district. The Applicant alleged that the villagers of Panchughanta village are affected by the impact of sand mining due to transportation through the village road as there was severe air pollution, depletion of water level, change in course of the river and obstruction of the natural flow by wooden bridges and approach road within the river.

It was stated that indiscriminate sand mining had caused severe threat to the environment and there had been severe environmental degradation and ecological impact as no Environmental Impact Assessment had been undertaken. In addition, there was heavy movement of trucks and tractors per day engaged for sand mining. No green belt had been developed along the approach road to the mine and no barriers zone created for obstruction of noise and dust.

Artificial sand banks had been created obstructing the water flow and wooden bridges had been constructed within the river for plying vehicles causing erosion of the riverbank. Machines have been engaged for mining from the water in the pretext of pay loading. Mechanical mining was also resorted where only manual mining was allowed. Mining was also done in excess of the permission granted.

Thus, in conclusion, the mining activity which was being carried out was not only unscientific but also against the Precautionary Principal and the EIA Notification, 2006, according to the complainant.

The NGT directed the constitution of a Joint Committee to inspect the area in question and verify on the factual aspects. The Odisha Pollution Control Board has been designated as the nodal agency for coordination.