Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding pollution of river Suna due to iron ore slurry pipeline projects of Keonjhar district, Odisha, 29/03/2023
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Ashutosh Mekap Vs State of Odisha dated 29/03/2023.
Grievance in the application is against industrial pollution at Joda block of Keonjhar in Odisha. It is stated that river Suna is polluted as slurry pipe is being installed under the river bed for which heavy machinery is being used to dig up the river for transporting slurry of mines and minerals. Such a step will result in blockage of sewerage and riverine system due to continuous digging and disposal of industrial waste/slurry. Discharge of mineral/slurry will pollute Baitarani and other rivers. Through the iron pipes, there will be export of iron powder to Paradip Port Trust, the complainant said.
The report filed by the joint committee mentioned the features of the iron ore slurry pipeline projects of Keonjhar district. The report said that iron ore slurry pipeline projects are coming under green categories as notified by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board. The two operating iron ore slurry pipelines of BRPL and AMNS were commissioned in 2013 and 2014 and crossed major rivers and streams at many places. "During visit to some of river crossing site of those pipe lines, no visible path (right of way) of pipelines was observed as the path was not demarcated. Neither any obstruction of water course nor any adverse impact was observed at crossing sites," the report informed the NGT.
The committee recommended some points for environmental friendly operation of iron ore slurry pipelines. These include the water resource department to ensure that iron ore slurry pipeline projects should strictly follow the approved methods of river/stream crossing and any violation may be reported for necessary action by appropriate authority. In addition, the water resource department should ensure the environmental flow in all streams/rivers/nallahs during lean periods and water allocation on priority basis as per state water policy while granting water withdrawal permission to such projects.
The NGT, March 29 directed further action to be taken by the project proponents and departments to be overseen by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board and District Magistrate, Keonjhar.