Mrunal Manmay Dash

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) rapped the District administration of Balasore over illegal sand mining in Subranarekha riverbed. The tribunal has directed filing of an FIR against former Tehsildar of Basta and penalised an accused of Rs 1 crore.

As an interim measure, the NGT directed one Rajesh Khatua from Jaleswar, Balasore to deposit Rs 1 crore towards environmental compensation to Odisha Pollution Control Board (PCB) within a period of one month till final computation of environmental compensation is carried out by SEIAA, Odisha.

“We further direct the Collector & District Magistrate, Balasore to lodge F.I.R against the Tahasildar, Basta who was the Tahasildar during the period 2017 to 2021 during which the illegal extraction of sand was carried out. Such F.I.R shall thereafter be carried to its logical conclusion. The Collector & District Magistrate shall also initiate departmental proceedings against the concerned Tahasildars in accordance with law,” the NGT order stated.

The NGT in 2021 had directed Odisha government to stop sand mining in Subarnarekha River along Jaleswar Tehsil in the district till further orders.

The direction came after the joint committee constituted by the Tribunal to probe into the allegations of environmental degradation in the area due to indiscriminate sand mining in Subarnarekha, submitted its report on the same.

The locals had alleged that illegal and rampant sand mining in the region has resulted in the depletion of water level, change in the course of the river. Moreover, the approach road constructed inside the river is allegedly obstructing its natural flow.

Besides, the villagers had complained that they are being exposed to air pollution caused by the transportation of excavated sand in open truck.