Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Dr. BR Sarangi of the Orissa High Court have observed that there is no justifiable reason for industrialisation at the cost of a healthy ecosystem.
The Bench said, “No doubt, industrialization is required for enhancement of revenue, but that does not mean at the cost of the lives of human beings by destroying ecosystems.”
The court was hearing a petition of New Light Yubak Sangha, a club established for the purpose of development of the poor, unemployed and downtrodden. The petition sought directions to initiate an inquiry on the basis of the grievance made by the villagers of Sodamal. The Club further sought cancellation of the notification through which eight acres of forest land in Sodamal village was allotted to a Waste Management Firm by the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO).
The land in question, was handed over to IDCO on a lease basis, and IDCO handed over the same to opposite party no.8 (Mahanadi Waste Management Services) for setting up of the industry by allotting the area measuring Ac.8.00 decimals for the project.
After the allotment notification, the local people, who belong to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities immediately put their grievance before the Collector and District Magistrate, Jharsuguda. The petitioner club also took steps for the local people for their welfare and protection which resulted in cancellation of the handing over of land to IDCO. But, again in the year 2019, Tahasildar, Kolabira published a notification that the land in question, which is jungle kisam, would be handed over to IDCO on lease basis.
In the wake of this, the petitioner stated that if an industry would be set up on the land in question, there would be destruction of the ecosystem by felling down the trees at the cost of livelihood of the local people and it would be in gross violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
After hearing the parties, the court noted, “The steps taken by opposite party no.8 at the cost of local people is serious one, thereby as has been stated earlier if the lease was allotted in the year 2011 and 2015 and the said proposal was cancelled, subsequently there was no valid justifiable reason to set up the industry by opposite party no.8 in the said land by destroying the ecosystem without hearing the grievance of the local people.”
The court further opined, “Equity has to be maintained between industrialization and the ecosystem itself. Unless there is equilibrium between the two systems, the ultimate result will be devastated.”
Finally, the court directed the Collector and District Magistrate, Jharsuguda to consider the representation made by the petitioner that was already pending for consideration before them. It also ordered them to pass a “reasoned and speaking order” by affording opportunity of hearing to the petitioner vis-à-vis opposite party no.8 and other affected persons, if any, as expeditiously as possible preferably within a period of three months before setting up of the unit of opposite party no.8 in the locality.
The order may be read here: