Probe illegal mining at Dankari hills: Guv’s office directs Environment dept

Bhubaneswar: As much-awaited proposed underground oil reservoir project (rock cavern) at Dankari hills under Dharmasala Tehsil near Chandikhole remains a non-starter amid rampant illegal mining in the area threatening the future of the project, the office of the Odisha Governor has directed the Forest and Environment Department to probe the matter.

According to sources, a social activist Sarbeswar Behura of Jajpur had moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to stop illegal mining in the area and urged the Odisha Governor to intervene into the matter on September 7.

Following this, the office of the Governor has requested the Additional Chief Secretary of State Environment department to probe the allegation of Behura and take appropriate action.

Sources said, after a directive from the NGT to the Chief Secretary of Odisha to form a special committee for an inquiry into the matter, a special team of State Environment Impact Assessment Committee will visit the spot to take stock of the situation today.

Earlier on Wednesday, Joint Secretary of Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, Sunjay Sudhir held discussions with the Chief Secretary of Odisha over initiation of the underground oil reservoir project. He said that State Government has assured to resolve issues that have been stalling the project for quite some time and the Centre is hopeful that the matter will be sorted out at the earliest so that the project can be moved ahead.

It is to be noted that Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had announced the project on April 12, 2014. But it was delayed as the state government has failed to provide the required 400-acre land for the project.