Bhubaneswar: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered inspection of the ash pond of a power generation agency in Jharsuguda close to the Hirakud reservoir. The construction was allegedly undertaken in violation of environment norms and that the project posed threat to the living conditions of the villagers.
NGT’s principal bench, through videoconferencing, heard the matter Wednesday from the eastern branch of the tribunal in Kolkata. It has asked for formation of a high-level committee comprising the Collector and the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to inspect the site and submit a report to the tribunal. It also asked the authorities to take action against the erring institutions if found guilty.
“We direct inspection of the area in question by the Joint Committee of the District Collector, Jharsuguda, and the SPCB and submission of the report on the factual position. Let the report be filed before January 20, 2020,” it said. The written order of the NGT also said, “We make it clear that in the event of any infraction, the authorities are at liberty to take action against the agency in accordance with law. Action-taken report in this regard should also be filed by the SPCB separately.”
Earlier, petitions were filed by the aggrieved villagers alleging that there had been construction of an ash pond by the Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) Limited at the Sansaratikra village in the district. It was alleged that Environmental Clearance for the ash pond was granted without holding public hearing as required by the law.
It was also said that the ash pond was close to Hirakud reservoir violating the minimum distance criteria of 500 metres from the High Flood Level of reservoir prescribed under the environmental clearance mandate. It was further alleged that the ash pond was close to human habitation being only about 48 metres causing threat to the life of the villagers.