Two PILs seeking court-guided CBI enquiry field in the High Court are yet to take cognisance

The Orissa High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the State Government, State Pollution Control Board and authorities of Angul-based Bhusan Steel and Stripes Ltd. to file their counters with in one week to a PIL which seeks closure of the steel plant for larger interest of public.

A Division Bench of Justices P.K. Mohanty and Debabrata Das issued notices to all the eight respondents of the case, including State Chief secretary, revenue secretary, steels and mines secretary, IDCO managing director, State labour commissioner and Angul district collector.

After preliminary hearing on the petition filed by one Udayanath Behera of Banrapal village of the district and five other villagers, the High Court issued the notices to the respondents asking them to file their counter affidavits with in one week, said the petition-advocate Trilochan Barik.

It may be mentioned here that two PILs were earlier filed in the High Court last week seeking court-guided CBI enquiry into the repeated mishaps occurring inside the steel plant premises and more particularly into the November 13 blast furnace explosion of the plant in which three workers died and several others were injured. The HC is yet to take cognisance of these two PILs.

Raising several instances of irregularities and illegalities in the functioning of the Bhusan steel plant, Behera and others have prayed for preventive measures against the unit. Alleging that the unit is functioning illegally, the petition said the steel plant authorities and the State Government are illegally gaining pecuniary benefits by way of criminal intimidation.

Pointing out that the steel plant unit is allowed to function in a “monopolistic” manner; the petitioners have challenged the malafide attempt by the State Government in defeating the rights of the poor people of the area. “With unauthorised support from the State Government, the authorities of the steel plant are presenting chaos, disorder, insubordination and criminal conduct inside the industrial campus”, the PIL alleged.

The petitioners further alleged that the private land in the area was illegally acquired by the State Government and handed over to the steel plant.

“No public notice was given for acquisition of land in about 12 villages of the locality, thereby violating Section 4 (1) of L A Act”, the PIL said alleging that in the absence of public notice, the affected parties could not make objections as required under the said Act.