National Green Tribunal Slams ‘Shoddy Probe’ Into Illegal Sand Mining In Odisha’s Balasore
Cuttack: Why did a high-level committee fail to study satellite images while investigating illegal sand mining in River Subarnarekha in Balasore district? Why did the probe panel base all its findings only upon the observations of the tehsildar of Basta?
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has raised these issues to blame the committee of “shoddy investigation” into illegal sand mining at Benapur.
The NGT’s east zone bench in Kolkata also directed the committee to submit a new probe report by the next date of hearing on August 24.
Notably, one Saral Kumar Parida, a resident of Basta, had filed a petition seeking intervention against illegal sand mining in the river by using heavy machines that are causing environmental degradation and changing the course of the river.
Following this, a high-level committee comprising the Balasore Collector, Member Secretary of State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority, a senior scientist of State Pollution Control Board and the Mining Officer of Baripada circle was constituted on June 2 to probe into the matter.
The committee had filed its report on July 6. The report said a visit by the committee was conducted but the river was in flood and no mining activity was going on. It was ascertained from the tehsildar that mining activities had been stopped earlier as the lease period expired on May 1, 2021, the report added.
However, an NGT bench of Justice B Amit Sthalekar (Judicial Member) and Saibal Dasgupta (Expert Member) expressed displeasure over the report. “We find the report of the committee to be quite shoddy. It is not mentioned anywhere as to why the committee did not take the assistance of the satellite images at least six months prior to the onset of monsoon and up to the date of expiry of the lease i.e. May 1, 2021 as it could have been determined from satellite images, depth of the available sand in the riverbed, the amount of sand mined and whether heavy vehicles were used,” the bench said, The New Indian Express reported.
The committee must submit its report reflecting the status as existing prior to six months and up to the date of expiry of the lease, the bench added.