National Green Tribunal stays stone quarrying in Kidigam panchayat

National Green Tribunal has intervened and stayed operations of stone quarries of a private company, which were allegedly causing much environmental pollution in Kidigam panchayat under Kashinagar Police Station limits in Gajapati district.

It may be noted that villagers of this area under the banner of Kidigam Parbat Prant Paribesh Raksha Samiti (KPPPRS) were protesting against the polluting stone quarry units of their area since past many years. They are led by a 75-year-old aeronautical engineer turned agriculturist, M.C. Rao. As the Gajapati district administration despite protests from localities had permitted the stone quarry to continue, Mr Rao had preferred to approach the National Green Tribunal. Mr Rao had appeared before the tribunal on October 23.

The case before the tribunal was related to a construction firm which had been granted permission by the Gajapati district Collector to quarry stone at two places at Kidigam panchayat in May this year. But there were some conditions attached to the permission. One such condition was that no deep hole blasting of more than three metres would be done and no heavy earth moving and mining would be done. According to Mr Rao, the construction firm had violated the restrictions and was involved in an indiscriminate quarrying and in some cases its quarries were more than 30 metres deep. It was causing environmental hazards including loss of agriculture and noise pollution. Added to it as the quarry site was too near the residential area, it was damaging houses of people living in the area.

The National Green Tribunal took into account the letter of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) officials in relation to the stone quarries of the area dated June 28, 2011, in relation to this case. Through that letter, the CPCB officials had communicated to the member secretary of the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) that it had been observed from the inspection report that the same company was involved in uncontrolled and unsafe blasting and mining in Kidigam panchayat area.

Dust, noise pollution

It was generating dust, noise pollution as well as leading to flying of splinters, besides causing vibrations which was suspected to be a probable cause of cracks in the nearby houses.

In the said letter, the CPCB had also stated that the company which had taken up the lease for quarry operations was carrying it out by the third parties and they, without taking steps to prevent air and noise pollution, were continuing quarry activity.

The National Green Tribunal members felt this letter, prima facie, showed that the conduct of the construction company was not in accordance with permission granted by the Collector. The contention of the applicant was that there has been indiscriminate quarrying in the area resulting in ill-health due to pollution and environment hazard. So, the tribunal restricted the company to continue quarrying activity in public interest. The National Green Tribunal has admitted the application of Mr Rao and has stayed all activities of the construction company involved in stone quarry activity in Kidigam area through its agents till next date of hearing.

The tribunal has also suo motu made the OSPCB a party for the purpose of deciding the issue.

The National Green Tribunal takes into account the letter of the Central Pollution Control Board officials in relation to the stone quarries of the area