Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding brick kilns violating environmental provisions, Ganjam, Odisha, 10/02/2020

  • 10/02/2020

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Bishnu Prasad Mishro Vs The State of Odisha & Others dated 10/02/2020 regarding brick-kiln units operating in the Ganjam District of Odisha violating the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

The primary contention of the applicant is that the regulatory regime was lagging in implementing the relevant laws. Clay brick-kiln units had been set-up in violation of the laws by unscrupulous elements rendering the agricultural lands redundant and the environment polluted. Brick earth was being excavated rampantly and sand extracted from river beds for the use in the brick-kilns without obtaining prior environmental clearance. This application had been instituted on May 6, 2015 and has been under consideration of the Tribunal since then.

By 2017, there were altogether 640 illegal brick fields identified out of which, 22 had paid the environmental compensation pursuant to the direction of the Tribunal. In addition to the 640 illegal brick fields, the applicant had in the year 2017 furnished another list of non-compliant brick-kilns which were around 604 in number. The Tribunal had asked the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) to include those also in the report to be filed by them.

In May 21, 2019 the matter came up for hearing for the first time after November 24, 2017 and the NGT said that the "question that remained to be considered in the case was the steps taken in respect of the additional 604 non-compliant brick kilns apart from the 640 which have been already identified." Further, the NGT noted that the affidavits filed by the State PCB does not reflect any action on the matter and ordered for a report to be submitted on the erring brick kilns. OSPCB informed the tribunal on February 4, 2020 that the total number of illegal brick kilns was 640 and action had been initiated against those which were in the breach.

In view of the above, the NGT directs the State Pollution Control Board "to maintain vigil and complete all actions initiated and are presently in process within the time frame fixed by them."