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Green nod: NGT seeks reply from Odisha govt in UltraTech Cement case

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Bhubaneswar: The proposed cement grinding unit of UltraTech Cement Ltd under Athagarh Tehsil in Odisha’s Cuttack district has hit a hurdle on Monday as the National Green Tribunal (Kolkata) has issued notices and sought reply from all parties within three weeks.

The villagers of Kolathppangi and Khamar Nuagaon namely Duryodhan Rout and four others had approached the NGT challenging the environmental clearance granted to the project in July this year.

UltraTech Cement Ltd had proposed to set up a cement grinding unit with production capacity of 3.0 MTPA and D.G. Set (2 x 6 MW) at villages: Khamarnuagam and Kolthpangi, in Athagarh Tehsil of Cuttack district in 2011. However due to stiff resistance from the villagers, the project could not move ahead and on November 3, the ground breaking ceremony was done by Chief Minister through video conference. On October 12 last year, the public hearing for the project was organized but could not be held because of strong protest and the clash between two groups.

The villagers alleged in their petition that the grant of environment clearance is bad in law and non-application of mind as because the clearance was granted without holding public hearing, non-consideration of objections from local public, inadequacies in EIA report about flora and fauna, cumulative impact of the project has not been assessed, presence of elephant and its pathway has not been considered, proximity to the village and school and human settlement, impact on ground water availability and other environmental parameters have not been considered while granting environmental clearance to the project.

On November 12, NGT bench comprising of Justice SP Wangdi and Dr. Nagin Nanda has issued notice to Secretary, Forest and Environment Department Odisha, District Collector Cuttack, Divisional Forest Officer, Cuttack, Member Secretary State Pollution Control Board, Member Secretary, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and UltraTech Cement Ltd to file their replies within three weeks and fixed the next hearing to December 10.