NGT asks Odisha govt to check potable water status in Keonjhar

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has directed Odisha government and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to jointly inspect and inform it about the status of potable water in Keonjhar district.

A bench, headed by Justice P Jyothimani, directed the state government to file analysis report and specify the reasons for the pollution. It has fixed the matter for further consideration on December 5.

“We direct the CPCB, SPCB as well as State Government of Odisha to jointly inspect and give report as to whether the potable water in the area is polluted or depleted or any potable water is available for people for further consumption.

“In addition, they shall take samples of water from the Baitarni river and file analysis report and also likely cause of pollution of such water,” the bench said.

Serajuddin and Company, Rungta Mines Ltd, Essel Mining and Industries Ltd, Tata Steel Ltd and Thriveni Earthmovers Pvt Ltd, who have mines in the district, have been made parties in the matter.

The bench had earlier directed Centre not to grant new permission or expansion of existing mining activity in the Keonjhar district of Odisha, while expressing concern over pollution in drinking water in the area.

It had also directed the mining companies to scrupulously follow various conditions stipulated in the environmental clearance by the competent authority and consent to establish as well as consent to operate.

The tribunal had directed MoEF, CPCB and others to file status reports in respect of mining being carried out in the area regarding their environmental compliance.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Rahul Kumar Agrawal who had alleged that MoEF had granted environmental clearance to the respondent industries for mining of iron ore in contravention of the various acts and laws related to environment and wildlife for expansion of iron ore mining.

The plea, filed through advocate Ashwini Kumar Dubey, had sought constitution of a committee of independent experts to assess the situation and suggest the remedial measures.

The plea alleged that excessive extraction of iron and manganese ore in Keonjhar has caused huge pollution in the area and people are not able to take fresh air and water.

“Due to the excessive extraction and illegal mining, the forest of the area are destroyed and the wildlife of the area was highly affected. There are also many serious health diseases found in the area due to the high pollution level,” the plea said.