NGT imposes ₹12cr fine on SJTA for illegal mining on temple land, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

CUTTACK: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a fine of Rs 12 crore on the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) for illegal stone mining on temple land.

The tribunal directed the SJTA to deposit the amount with the Khurda district collector for reclamation and restoration of 23 stone quarries, where no mining work will be undertaken.

The NGT’s east zone bench in Kolkata issued the direction while disposing of a petition alleging illegal stone mining in nearly 500 acres belonging to the Jagannath Temple at different sites under Nijigarh Tapang panchayat in Khurda district.

Bidu Bhusan Harichandan, a resident of Nijigarh Tapang, filed the petition. Advocate Sankar Prasad Pani argued on behalf of the petitioner. The tribunal had reserved its judgment on October 14.

In its final order pronounced on Monday, the bench of B Amit Sthalekar (judicial member) and Saibal Dasgupta (expert member) directed the Khurda collector to constitute a committee for restoration and renovation of the excavated areas in 23 quarries as per the plan already prepared and complete the entire work within four months.

The plan involved restitution and restoration of the land by reclaiming it with pulverized fly ash and to take up afforestation immediately after reclamation.

“An action taken report on affidavit shall be filed by the district collector, Khurda, by March 31, 2023,” the bench added.

Earlier, the NGT had constituted a joint committee to look into the allegation of illegal laterite and black stone mining in quarries on temple land. The committee, with Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) as the nodal agency, after its inquiry confirmed there was illegal quarrying.

Out of the 72 quarries on temple land, only 27 have obtained environmental clearance, consent to establish (CTE) and consent to operate (CTO). While 24 quarries do not have the CTE, 37 have not obtained the CTO, the committee’s report said.

According to the NGT’s final order, the SJTA after discussion with OSPCB had identified 23 quarries where no mining will be undertaken. Instead, renovation, reclamation and restitution of these quarries will be undertaken at a cost of an estimated Rs 12 crore.

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