Other States

NGT questions Jajpur DC’s authority to intervene in pollution matter

In an apparent indictment of the Jajpur district administration, the Eastern Zonal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Kolkata, has questioned its authority to direct the State Pollution Control Board to allow the East Coast Railway to operate the Jakhapura railway siding accused of being run without any statutory environmental consent.

Aswini Kumar Dhal, a social activist, had moved the NGT alleging that the Jakhapura railway siding near Kalinganagar Industrial Complex in Jajpur district did not have proper siding for handling those voluminous materials which caused pollution.

The railway authority had also not obtained the consent to operate from the SPCB for carrying out such activity, he submitted. The SPCB consequently ordered closure of the siding on account of pollution. However, the Jajpur District Collector intervened and directed the pollution control board to revoke the decision.

“The District Magistrate, Jajpur, is directed to file an affidavit on the issue of power vested on him under the Water Act, 1974, and the Air Act, 1981, to direct the Regional Officer of the State Pollution Control Board to allow the East Coast Railway for loading and unloading operation of minerals. The affidavit should be filed within two weeks,” the NGT directed.

According to Shankar Pani, counsel of Mr. Dhal: “The SPCB is an autonomous body and empowered to take independent direction on the environmental issue. The DC does not have authority under the Water Act, 1974, and the Air Act, 1981, to intervene in the matter.”

The NGT also expressed surprise over the revocation order. “The SPCB is directed to file the record of the resolution taken by the Board where it was decided to revoke the stoppage or closure order issued earlier even though the railway siding unit did not have the consent for last five years. The records on affidavit should be filed within two weeks,” it directed.

The Tribunal had earlier issued show-cause notice to the East Coast Railway as to why heavy penalty would not imposed on it for operating Jakhapura Railway siding without obtaining consent to operate from SPCB.

The Jakhapura Railway siding situated near Kalinganagar Industrial Complex handles mineral such as coal and iron ore. The activist had drawn attention that large rural populace was adversely affected as no mechanism was in place for containing water and air pollution.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 4:29:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/NGT-questions-Jajpur-DC%E2%80%99s-authority-to-intervene-in-pollution-matter/article14014944.ece

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