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NGT orders reinvestigation of illegal sand mining on Mahanadi riverbed

The NGT’s direction was in response to the petition moved by two local residents alleging extensive degradation of the river bed and extraction.

SNS | Bhubaneswar |

The Eastern Zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered a fresh inquiry into the alleged unlawful sand mining activities from Mahanadi river bed at Nuapatana under Tangi-Choudwar tehsil of Cuttack district.

The NGT’s direction was in response to the petition moved by two local residents alleging extensive degradation of the river bed and extraction of sand illegally through mechanized means. The remote sensing satellite pictures corroborated the extensive degradation of the riverbed.

The NGT had earlier constituted a joint inquiry committee. The green panel, after examining the report furnished by the committee, sought for fresh inspection to reexamine the environmental compensation and the amount that the lessee has to pay for carrying out the illegal extraction of sand. The committee had estimated Rs 38.28 lakh as environmental compensation to be paid by the lessee.

However, the environment compensation estimate was challenged in a petition which alleged that the illegal mining had triggered environmental damage by the illegal mining being on a much larger scale.

“In our opinion, this matter needs to be examined by the committee once again. We, therefore, direct the committee to re-examine the issue and submit a fresh report within four weeks”, a two-member bench of the NGT ordered while posting the matter for further hearing on 7 February 2022.

The joint inquiry panel constituted by the green panel on April last comprised of a senior scientist from the Integrated Regional Office of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhubaneswar, senior scientist from Regional Office of the Central Pollution Control Board, Kolkata, West Bengal, District Collector, Cuttack, Senior Official/Scientist from State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and District Mining Officer, Cuttack.