Environment

Stolen river: NGT orders Jindal Steel to pay Rs 2 crore for ‘destroying’ Odisha nullah

JSPL, based out of Jindal Nagar in Angul, had interfered with nature by changing the natural course of the Kurdabahali Nullah that cannot be restored now, the NGT said

 
By Susan Chacko
Published: Tuesday 30 November 2021
Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE
Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) November 26, 2021 ordered Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) to pay Rs 2 crore for ‘killing’ a waterbody in Odisha’s Angul district.

JSPL, based out of Jindal Nagar in Angul, had interfered with nature by changing the natural course of the Kurdabahali Nullah. The course cannot be restored now, the court said.

Justice B Amit Sthalekar of the Eastern Zone Bench, NGT, said JSPL had to deposit Rs 1.5 crore with the Odisha forest department. It also had to deposit Rs 50 lakh with the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB).

The forest department would use the compensation amount for increasing the green cover in the area along the banks of the waterbody and in available vacant areas.

The OSPCB would be responsible for the continuous monitoring of the water quality of the nullah as well as in the Parang Minor Irrigation Project.

River theft

JSPL had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Odisha January 3, 2005 for setting up of a 6 million tonnes per annum steel plant and 900 megawatt captive power plant at Kerjang in Angul.

The Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) had handed over a major chunk of leasable government as well as acquired private land to JSPL, for the purpose.

The Kurdabahali Nullah originates from the Badakerjang village and passes through the villages of Kaliakata, Panapur, Kaliakata jungle, Ramadihi and Sankerjang jungle.

It finally merges into the Parang Minor Irrigation Project. The nullah coveres an area of 20.460 acres of which 13.36 acres has been given to IDCO.

The NGT November 26 said JSPL had filled up the original Kurdabahali Nullah with earth and constructed its industrial complex over that area.

JSP did this despite not having received sanction from the Odisha government for diversion of the Kurdabahali Nalla through an alternate diversion into the Parang Minor Irrigation Project.

Alekha Chandra Tripathy, a resident of Cuttack, had filed a case in the Eastern Bench of the NGT, August 22, 2017 alleging that JSPL had unauthorisedly usurped the nullah in connivance with the state authorities.

The NGT, in its judgement, has said JSPL shall maintain the diversion it has created in the nullah from its origin up to the point where it empties into the Parang Minor Irrigation Project.

This maintenance shall be in a manner conforming to the preservation of peripheral boundaries of lakes and other water bodies, other than use of stone / concrete or any other solid material on the banks of this alternate diversion.

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