Jajpur, Feb 6 (LocalWire) The district administration on Wednesday imposed prohibitory order under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC ) at Dankari and Rahadapur hillocks under Dharmasala Tehasil in Jajpur district to stop the illegal stone-quarry works.
“The drives against illegal stone extraction began at Dankari after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had last month directed the state government to pay an interim compensation of Rs 25 cr for illegal quarrying activates in and around Dankari hillock resulting in spread of diseases due to pollution in the locality,” said Jajpur collector Ranjan Kumar Das.
Das said last year NGT had also directed Forest and Environment Department secretary to constitute a joint inspection team to ascertain facts pertaining to illegal stone quarries operating in and around Dankari hillock and take necessary actions against quarry mafias and close illegal quarries.
Senior officials of forest and revenue departments last year visited Dankari to submit a report to NGT regarding illegal quarry of the stones from the hillock, said the collector.
Pertinently, four years back, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan had urged Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to provide 600 acre of land to set up the country’s largest strategic reserve for storing 3.7 million metric tonne (MMT) crude oil in Jajpur district.
“As per the direction of the state government, the district administration selected around 600 acre of land for this purpose at Dankari,” said Das.
A team of officials of Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL), under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, along with senior officials of the district administration, visited Dankari village in 2017 to select around 600 acre of land for setting up Strategic Oil Reserve (Underground Rock Caverns) in a bid to store adequate stock for meeting requirement during any crisis for eight days.
On Mar 23, 2017 the central government had asked the Odisha Chief Secretary to ensure that no quarry activities are permitted within 500 metres of Dankari in view of construction of the country’s fourth largest underground oil reserve at the site, said Das.
“The district administration constituted a Special Task Force to close all illegal stone quarry and crusher units. We also directed the police to guard the hillock,” said Das.
Environmentalist Sarbeswar Behura alleged in his petition before the NGT that many influential persons have been doing illegal quarries in a clear nexus with officials and ruling party leaders by violating all laws and norms over the forest land.
Many locals expressed happiness after the officials stopped illegal stone quarries at Dankari and Rahadapur.
“Large scale illegal quarrying were posing serious threat to nearby villagers of Chadehidhara, Barada, Mahisara, Baramana, Gadamadhupur and Chadakamara,” said Barada villager Bijay Behera.
“Most of the villagers developed breathing-related diseases due to environmental pollution. Unchecked blasting had damaged houses and crops in the region forcing residents to launch agitation many times against illegal quarrying.” said Behera.