NGT fines ECoR Rs 50 lakh for unauthorised Jakhapura siding

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has fined the East Coast Railway (ECoR) Rs 50 lakh on charges of operating a railway siding without its permission at Jakhapura railway station in Jajpur district.

Hearing a petition filed by Ashwini Dhal, the Kolkata bench of NGT asked the ECoR in its complete verdict to deposit the amount at the Jajpur Collectorate. Besides, the tribunal ordered the ECoR to pay Rs 1 lakh to the petitioner towards legal expenses.

The NGT also asked the Jajpur Collectorate to utilise Rs 25 lakh of the amount to be paid by ECoR towards development of Jakhapura Primary Health Centre. The rest of the amount will be used for sewerage, drinking water supply and plantation progarmmes, the NGT order added.

Above all, the tribunal directed the Odisha Chief Secretary to form a high-level committee to probe into the role of the State Pollution Control Board Chairman and Member Secretary in setting up of the railway siding. The order also suggested disciplinary action against the then Jajpur Collector.

Notably, in 2002, the State government had announced Odisha as a pollution controlled area. Similarly, in 2008, the government put the railway sidings involved in coal and mineral transportation, loading and unloading under red category. A notification was issued making it clear that no railway siding could operate without the permission of the pollution control board.

Following this, the pollution control board temporarily suspended operation of the sidings in the State.

However, in April 2015, the then Jajpur Collector wrote a letter to the State Pollution Control Board requesting it to grant permission for the siding.

In his plea, the petitioner had appealed to the NGT to stop operation of the sidings immediately, demanding action against the persons involved in it and proper compensation.