Ramakanta Biswas

The eastern zone bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a whopping fine of Rs 36 crore on a lease holder for allegedly carrying out illegal mining of sand in at Dingiria of Budhabalang River in Badasahi tehsil of Mayurbhanj district. 

A bench of Justice B Amit Sthalekar (judicial member) and Saibal Dasgupta (expert member) of the NGT pronounced the judgement on August 30 while hearing a plea of Radhamohan Singh of Mayurbhanj. 

The bench expressed displeasure over mining of sand in violation of the conditions stipulated in the Environmental Clearance and Consent to Operate conditions.

“As the lessee was operating the mine for the year 2021-22 without valid consent to operate from the State Pollution Control Board and valid Environmental Clearance from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Odisha, Bhubaneswar the lessee shall pay the Environmental compensation for ecological damaged due to illegal mining as CPCB guideline an amount of Rs.11,89,77,404/- and environmental compensation of Rs.21,00,000/- for damage of the environment and operation of the quarry without valid CTO,” the bench said. 

“Illegal mining to the extent of 45,600 Cum of excess sand having been established, an amount of Rs.12,35,84,844/- (Rupees Twelve crore thirty-five lakhs eighty-four thousand eight hundred forty-four only) has been imposed against the Respondent No.16, Krupasindhu Singh, Private Respondent and Environmental Compensation has been computed at Rs.21,00,000/- (Rupees Twenty-one lakhs only),” the bench added.  

The green tribunal also ordered filing of FIR against Badsahi Tehsildar Mamtaj Maharana for her role in the illegal mining.

“We, therefore, direct the State Respondents to lodge FIR against Smt. Mamtaj Maharana, Tahasildar, Badsahi, Mayurbhanj also for her role in illegally issuing Transit Permits to the Respondent No.16 and thereby actively conniving in causing theft of State Revenue which is public money,” the bench said. 

“We also direct the Odisha State Pollution Control Board to initiate proceedings against the Respondent No.16, Pradeep Kumar Bindhani and Krupasindhu Singh for recovery of penalty and Environmental Compensation forthwith. 

Affidavit of compliance shall be filed by the Collector & District Magistrate, Mayurbhanj by 07.12.2022,” it added.  

The tribunal has directed the District Magistrate, Mayurbhanj to ensure that no illegal sand mining takes places in the district. 

It also suggested that wherever legal sand mining is going on, strict monitoring mechanisms like installation of CCTV cameras at strategic location, GPS enabled trucks used for transportation of sand and checking squads be put in place. 

Earlier, the district administration had suspended Bidanasi tehsildar and lodged FIRs against two sand mafias-Krupasindhu Singh Pradeep Kumar Bindhani- in connection with the illegal sand mining.