NGT issues notice to Centre, Odisha Govt on river water use
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued notices to the Centre and Odisha on a plea alleging that iron ore refining company Brahmani River Pellets Ltd (BRPL), promoted by UK-based Stemcor Group, is drawing water from river Baitarani without environmental clearance.
A NGT bench, comprising acting Chairman Justice A S Naidu and expert member P C Mishra, has also issued a notice to BRPL on the application filed by a Orissa native Murli Manohar Sharma.
The Tribunal has directed the river water not be used contrary to the agreement between the state government and BRPL which has been ordered not to go ahead with its project without obtaining environmental clearance.
"Heard. Admit. Let notice be issued to the respondents (Ministry of Environment and Forests, State of Odisha and BRPL). The water from river Baitarani shall not be used contrary to the agreement. Respondent 4 (BRPL) shall not go ahead with construction of the project without obtaining environment clearance," the bench has said.
Sharma, in his application filed through advocate B P Tripathy, has sought directions to BRPL and the state government to ensure that the natural course of water of the river is not obstructed in any manner.
He also sought an order declaring that changing the natural flow and the course of river Baitarani due to activities of BRPL is illegal.
Sharma alleged the decision of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the state government to allow BRPL to draw water from the river for transporting iron slurry through pipelines was illegal, arbitrary and in violation of statutory obligations to protect the environment.
According to Sharma's plea, BRPL has constructed intake wells and pump stations upstream of Baitarani river without necessary clearance for drawing massive quantities of water to transport iron slurry through a 220km long pipeline to its refining plant being in Kalinga Nagar in district Jajpur, Odisha.
Sharma in his plea has contended the drawing of water from the river will result in a change in its natural flow pattern which, in turn, would affect the Baitarani river ecosystem.
He also contended continuous withdrawal of water from the river without replenishment would ultimately affect the steady supply of water to nearby villagers whose livelihood depends on agriculture.
Sharma has argued an alternative arrangement, via road and railway network, for transport of iron ore is available without compromising on river water and environment.