Jajpur: The administration in the neighbouring Dhenkanal district has been in the soup over illegal mining and ecological damage to Jhilli hill under Kankadahad tehsil.
Hearing a case about illegal stone mining November 29, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed Rs 5 crore penalty as interim compensation on the lease holder, a stone crushing unit owner and the district administration.
The NGT had directed the lease holder, the stone crushing unit owner and the district administration to deposit the amount at the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) within a month.
In the order, the green court said the penalty amount will be spent for regenerating forests towards the loss of greenery due to wanton mining in the hill.
A five-member committee will look after the utilisation of the fund.
Officials of the regional office of the Ministry of the Forest and Environment, Bhubaneswar, regional office (Kolkata) of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and the Collector will be the members of the committee.
The SPCB will act as a nodal agency in this matter. The NGT also stated that if the penalty was not collected, the Collector would have to take legal action in this regard.
The penalty amount will be utilised for environment conservation, welfare of the labourers working in the mining of minor minerals and local people.
The committee is to decide on how the fund will be utilised. In September, 2020, some local people affected by the stone mining in the hill had approached the NGT.
Thereafter, the regional officer of OSPCB, Angul, had served show cause notices on the lease holder and the local tehsildar on the issue of air and water pollution.
Locals then alleged sal trees had been chopped off for mining while regular explosions in quarries caused cracks in the houses in the area.