KOLKATA; Aug 23: The National Green Tribunal, Eastern Zone Bench, today on Wednesday, 23 August 2017 served notice on the matter of ecological disaster and environmental pollution caused by mining activity to Tata Steel Limited and others. The respondents include the MOEF, New Delhi; the Dept of Forest and Environment, Govt of Odisha; the Odisha Pollution Control Board and the Collector, Jajpur district in Odisha. The bench accepted a petition by a local villager Lambodar Mohanto who has approached the National Green Tribunal. The applicant is a local inhabitant belonging to Kalarangia atta where Tata steel Limited is operating its chromite ore mines.  The applicant and his villagers are directly affected in serious manner by the pollution caused by the company.

The petition filed by Advocate Sankar Pani seeks to challenge the destructive activities and unscientific management of mines by TATA Mines leading to the obstruction of natural streams, nickel deposits in agricultural land because of the mines run off, depletion of ground water in nearby villages because of deep mining, underground water contamination and the unscientific management of mines overburden causing severe environmental hazard in the locality.

Furthermore, the mining project has been granted environmental clearance with conditions for enhancement of production of chrome ore from 0.95 to 2.4 million TPA and Pyroxenite ore mining from 0.25 to 0.5 million TPA (ROM) and enhancement of chrome beneficiation production from 0.1 to 0.65 million TPA of M/s Tata Steel Ltd. which is located over the total project area of 579.685 ha. This includes 406 ha of mine lease area (73.697 ha of forest land and 332.303 ha of non-forest land), 100 ha of forest land for overburden dump and 73.685 ha of forest land for proposed tailing dam outside the mine lease area.

During rainy season the mine runoff water drains into the agricultural land of Puria jhar, Dehury sahi, Mahulkhal, Kakudia, Kusumundia and Ransol villages the lands are silted with nickel, making the land completely unsuitable for agriculture.

Most grievous is the fact that mines overburden of the company has already obstructed natural streams namely Puriajhar, Dehury Sahi Nalla, Malharsahi Stream, and Bhimatangar Nalla which are lifeline of local tribal for agricultural and domestic purposes. These streams used to irrigate 500 acres of agricultural land and because of the streams getting blocked, most of the land cannot be irrigated.

The number of ailments and diseases is going up. Scabies and tuberculosis are rampant in Sukinda block. According to RTI information, the OrissaPOST of April 24, 2017 reports how diseases caused by contamination of water, air and dust are going up and 25, 000 people are affected and that if data from Sukinda and Kaliapani are taken into account, the number of affected people can easily go beyond 1 lakh.

The NGT has served notice to the MOEF and the OPCB since these issues directly come under them and they need to provide explanation for the use of forest land as well as the wide scale environmental destruction affecting all water sources and causing immense misery and ailment to the villagers.

The NGT expects all respondents to furnish explanations by October 3, 2017.

Sukinda Khoni Aancholo Bisthapan Birodhi Janmanch

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  1. Sally Dugman says:

    Back in the 1980’s, a whistle would blow a mile away from my home. It blew at the W. R. Grace plant in Acton, MA. Then a sickeningly sweet smell would fill the air that gave me a stomachache, nausea and dizziness.

    I described the event to a chemist-friend of mine and he told me, based on my symptoms, that it was a release of benzene gas and the whistle was to warn workers at the plant to get indoors within a minute before the release.

    ATSDR – Toxic Substances – Benzene
    Benzene is a colorless liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates into the air very quickly and dissolves slightly in water. It is highly flammable and is formed from …

    I lived in a residential neighborhood. Why should my four year daughter, my neighbors, the animals and plants around us be exposed to this illegally released substance?

    I was furious. So I illegally walked onto the W. R. Grace property snapping photos of their toxic sludge pond,the tree with white powder drifting around in the air from a huge pile with a sign that stated that nobody get close as it was poisonous, and I took pictures of other sites/sights.

    Then I called my town’s health director and told him about the benzene and my pictures, which I subsequently sent to him…. He got back to me with results.

    Yes, he had a crew check out the smokestack. Yup, massive amounts of gaseous benzene had flowed through it. He checked out my photos and made the company clean up the toxic messes.

    The problem was that while W. R. Grace got slapped with an environmental violation fine,THE TAXPAYERS paid for the cleanup (more than a million dollars) as a Superfund site. WE all had to pay for fixing that company’s wrongdoings. (Why can’t they?) And who is to pay for anyone who has health issues, like cancer, from the toxins that this company released into the air, the water, the land? How can it be proved that it originated with W. R. Grace after years of exposure to their illegal waste?

    A Civil Action (film) – Wikipedia
    A Civil Action is a 1998 American drama film directed by Steven Zaillian and starring John … decides to go forward against two giant corporations (real-life companies Beatrice Foods and W. R. Grace and Company) with links to the tanneries, …

    W. R. Grace and Company – Wikipedia
    W.R. Grace and Company is an American chemical conglomerate based in Columbia, …. The movie A Civil Action, starring John Travolta, was based on the Grace groundwater contamination law suits in Woburn, MA. The PBS television show …
    Products‎: ‎specialty chemicals
    Revenue‎: ‎US$3.051 billion (2015)
    Number of employees‎: ‎6,500
    Industry‎: ‎Basic Materials

    All considered, I hope that it all works out with your TATA mess. Good fortune to you!

  2. K SHESHU BABU says:

    The NGT has taken a positive step in exposing the hazards created by Tata steel and its mining in agricultural lands affecting tribals and villagers. Environmental concerns as well as livelihood of poor and tribals must be addressed at the earliest to provide respite to the indigenous people