The National Green Tribunal, Eastern Zone branch, imposed a fine of Rs 2 crore upon Jindal Steel and Power Limited after holding the steelmaker accountable for diversion of the natural course of Kurbadahali Nullah (creek) in Angul district.
The NGT’s direction came in the wake of a petition moved by Alekha Chandra Tripathy, a resident of Cuttack. The petitioner had drawn the attention of the green panel and had alleged that the authorities of JSPL’s steel plant filled up the Kurdabahali Nalla with earth and built its industrial complex thereon. The steelmaker had not received sanction from the Odisha government for diversion of the Kurdabahali Nalla through an alternate diversion into the Parang Minor Irrigation Project.
The JSPL had perpetrated illegality by usurping the Nandira River in Angul in collusion with the State authorities and filled up the Nandira River with earth thereby completely obliterating the river, the petitioner had alleged.
“It had also constructed its industry over the said land for construction of an integrated steel plant with a captive power plant at Sanakerjang in Sankerjang Jungle under Nisha Police Station. It is stated that no prior permission has been sought by the company from the concerned authorities before filling up the Nandira River,” the petition charged.
“However, this water channel, even from the map, is shown to be the Kurdabahali Nalla and not the Nandira river. The Nandira river is shown outside the boundary of JSPL and has its origin in the Parang Minor Irrigation Project. The Kurdabahali Nalla, on the other hand, is shown entering the premises of JSPL and exiting therefrom to flow into the Parang Minor Irrigation Project,” the tribunal observed in its judgment.
“The company had requested the Odisha government for permission to divert the Nalla since it was causing flooding during the rainy season within the plant premises and also affecting the local villagers residing within the villages covered by the flow of this Nalla. The proposal in this regard was initiated by JSPL and the matter was pending before the State government and sanction was only granted in 2017 with certain conditions,” the judgment says.
Adjudicating the matter, the apex green tribunal said the NGT “the determinative facts which emerge from the pleadings of the parties and the documents on record undisputedly establish that there had been a diversion of a water channel by the JSPL over an area passing through its industrial campus.
“We direct that out of the amount of Rs. 2 crores, Rs. 1.5 crore would be deposited with the State’s Forest Department and Rs. 50,00,000 would be deposited with the Odisha State Pollution Control Board,” the NGT ordered saying the
The forest department would utilize the amount for increasing the green cover in the area along the banks of the Nalla and in available vacant areas, the NGT directed.
The NGT also directed the State government to take strong action against officials responsible for the diversion of natural nalla in six months’ time. The State Pollution Control Board would be responsible for continuous monitoring of the water quality of the Nalla as well as in the Parang Minor Irrigation Project, the tribunal maintained.