Khurda: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Monday directed the state government to constitute a high-level committee to probe the illegal laterite stone mining in Tapang area of the district.
The NGT said a senior scientist of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), the environment impact assessment authority and Khurda Collector would be the members of the high-level committee.
The NGT said that the high-level panel would investigate the allegations of illegal mining of laterite stones and submit report to the NGT accordingly.
Bidubhusan Harichandan of Khurda area and rights activist Dillip Kumar Samantaray had moved the green tribunal December 19, 2018 alleging large scale mining of laterite stones, affecting the environment in the area.
The petitioners informed the NGT that illegal mining was carried out in 500 acres of land at about 40 places including Anda, Jhinkijhari and Nijigad of Tapang mouza of the district.
These places are either cashew forests or village forests or pasturelands, the petitioners told the NGT adding, the stone mafia are carrying out the quarrying without obtaining the permission of the SPCB. This was revealed through an RTI reply, the petitioners maintained.
It was also found that most of the landed properties on which the mining was carried out are in the name of Lord Jagannath, Puri.
The petitioners informed the NGT that the stone mafia abandoned the quarry pits which turned into death traps for domestic animals and even human beings.
The mafia cutting down trees from the mining areas has taken a heavy toll on the environment of the areas.
The green panel was also told that since the illegal miners are not obtaining approval from the SPCB, it entails huge loss of revenue to the state exchequer.
The petitioners said that some district administration officials are hand in glove with the mining mafia, who are having a field day in the area.
Advocate Shankar Prasad Pani was pleading on behalf of the petitioners.
The NGT posted the date of hearing to April 22.