Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding illegal mining of morrum for the construction of railway track from Bhadrak to Nergundi, Cuttack district, Odisha, 23/11/2023
Order of the National Green Tribunal (Eastern Zone Bench, Kolkata) in the matter of Srikanta Kumar Pakal & Others Vs State of Odisha & Others dated 23/11/2023.
The allegation is that for the construction of a third line railway track from Bhadrak to Nergundi, earthbed is constructed by taking earth/Morrum from various places under the Panchayat Uchapada under Tangi-Choudwar tahasil. It is alleged that about 20 lakh cubic meters of morrum has been illegally lifted/extracted from various places in Cuttack district. Allegations also is that illegal morrum mining being carried out on revenue forest land of different villages and trees have been felled for mining morrum. It was also alleged that for construction of the railway line, thousands of truckloads of morrum have been illegally lifted in Tangi-Choudwar tahasil without any valid permission or NOC from the Uchapada Gram Panchayat.
The applicant said that as morrum is a minor mineral and cannot be lifted from source without Environmental Clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA for short), Approved Mining Plan and Consent from the State Pollution Control Board and no such documents are there in the present case for carrying out the illegal mining of morrum.
The court was of the opinion that the matter required consideration and directed notice to be issued to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), East Coast Railway, Odisha State Pollution Control Board; State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Odisha among others.
The NGT directed the constitution of a committee who would visit the site and submit its report with regard to the allegations made in the application within three weeks. In case violations are found, the committee shall recommend penalty as well as Environmental Compensation and also suggest remedial measures, if any.