HRLN Odisha's Unit fights to provide environmental justice for residents of various villages of Jagatsinghpur District, Odisha

Sushama Malik & Ors. v. Industrial Development Corporation, Orissa & Ors (Writ Petition 4998 of 2020)

The Petitioners are local residents of Village Kimilo falling within Ersama Block in Jagatsinghpur District in Orissa. The Petitioners will be adversely affected by the proposed fish processing unit that is proposed to be set up in Village Kimilo. Further, no consultations have been held with Gram Sabhas of the Village with regard to the proposed project that will affect a large number of people. Additionally, certain environment permissions that are required prior to starting work have not been obtained.

Two other petitions on the same lines are to be filed in the Odisha High Court. One of the petitions seeks to raise concerns with regard to the procedure adopted by the JSW Utkal Steel Ltd. to obtain environmental clearance for a number of projects planned by it in an area falling within Erasama block in Jagatsinghpur district in Orissa. More specifically, the petition is concerned with the fact that the said company has sought to mislead the Authorities and the public by presenting five separate projects as ‘two’ in number while making applications for environmental clearance, which is impermissible in law. The relief sought in the present petition is on the ground that, inter alia, the procedure stipulated by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change for obtaining environmental clearance for integrated and interlinked projects has not been followed. Further, the petition seeks to draw attention to the fact that the public hearings that were conducted in December 2019 pursuant to the two applications for environmental clearance were illegal and invalid. The other Petition seeks to challenge the transfer of forest clearance that was granted earlier to POSCO, a South Korean Company for the setting up of a steel plant and a captive port within Erasama block in Jagatsinghpur district in Orissa. The said forest clearance that was granted on 29th December 2009 has now been transferred to JSW Utkal Steel Ltd., an Indian Company that proposed to set up a similar project in addition to several others in the same area. The grounds on which the transfer is challenged is that the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 does not permit the transfer of forest clearance granted to a User Agency. Moreover, the forest clearance dated 29th December 2009 was itself granted in violation of the law, particularly the Forest Rights Act, 2006, as pointed out by several committees appointed by the MoEF.