Bhubaneswar: The ‘illegal’ sand mining activities along the Ghodahad river near Maulabhanja in Ganjam district have come under the lens of the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
Villagers from the affected areas have approached the SEIAA seeking an enquiry into the alleged illegal sand mining in the area and also pass orders putting a stop to all sand mining activities in the area.
A petition filed before the authority alleged that the lease holders in the area started mining sand, thereby damaging various structures and bridges lying in close proximity without obtaining requisite approvals, including environmental clearance for the same.
It also alleged that there have been several clashes between the villagers and those operating the sand mining activities in the region. The villagers said that in the process, a former Sarpanch of the area was abducted by the sand mining mafia. The Sarpanch was, however, rescued following police intervention. “The present Tahasildar has clamped Section 144 CrPC in the sand mining area stopping the sand mining for a while. However, no damages or compensation was collected from the ‘so called’ lease holder,” the petition before the SEIAA said.
It has been alleged that due to the ‘illegal’ sand mining in the area, sand was deposited in around 10 hectares of agricultural land, including vegetable fields – making the agricultural lands unfit for cropping. Moreover, vehicles engaged in the mining are causing air and land pollution as they are not covered while transporting the mined sand.
“It is pertinent to mention that the Application for Environmental Clearance for Ghodahad sand mining, Maulabhanja, has been rejected by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority Odisha in pursuant to the SEAC Meeting minutes dated 27/02/2017,” the petition said.