Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding quarrying activities carried out in the Eco-Sensitive Zone of Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary, Balasore, Odisha, 14/08/2023

Order of the National Green Tribunal (Eastern Zone Bench, Kolkata) in the matter of Rural Organisation for Social Empowerment (R.O.S.E.) Vs State of Odisha & Others dated 14/08/2023.

The Applicant is aggrieved by Notification dated January 20, 2023 made under the provisions of Section 36-A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 of 97 sand sairat sources by the Government of Odisha in the vicinity of Similipal-Hadgarh-Kuldiha-Conservation Reserve. It is alleged that the region of the said sand sairat sources advertised and leased out is densely forested and is proposed to be notified as a Reserved Forest, namely, the Sukhuapata Reserved Forest and, therefore, quarrying activities carried out in the Eco-Sensitive Zone of Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary, without prior approval of the Central Government is illegal and in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and if such quarrying activities are permitted to continue unabated, it will severely threaten the well-being of the ecosystem in the area and lead to severe loss of wildlife and precious biodiversity.

It was further alleged that the said notification was in violation of the judgment of the Supreme Court (Binay Kumar Dalei & Others. vs. State of Odisha & Others) wherein the apex court had directed the state of Odisha to implement the "Comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan as suggested by the Standing Committee of NBWL before permitting any mining activity in the eco-sensitive zone. The State is also directed to complete the process of declaration of the traditional elephant corridor as conservation reserve as per Section 36A of the Act expeditiously". The mining operations will only then be permitted.

The NGT was of the opinion that the matter required consideration and directed notice to be issued to the state of Odisha; Odisha State Pollution Control Board: Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change; State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Odisha among others.

The NGT also requested the Additional Advocate General, Odisha to assist the court at the stage of final disposal in the matter.