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Iron ore pipeline in deep waters

Cuttack, Dec. 28: The controversy over transportation of iron ore in slurry form through pipeline to far off places by using Baitarani river water has intensified in Odisha.

While Orissa High Court had issued notices to the state government seeking clarification on laying of pipeline by Essar Steel Odisha Limited (ESOL) for transportation of iron ore in slurry form from Keonjhar to Paradip, the National Green Tribunal has imposed restrictions on the construction undertaken by the company for the purpose.

ESOL, a subsidiary of Essar Steel, had undertaken construction on the pipeline for feeding iron ore to the six million tonne per annum steel pellet factory it is setting up at Paradip.

The high court had issued notices to the state government on December 6, while admitting a PIL seeking judicial intervention against it as the project will draw a lot of water from the Baitarani river, which is already under stress. Rabindra Mallick and five other residents of Jajpur, Keonjhar and Bhadrak districts had filed the PIL.

Another petition was filed before the National Green Tribunal challenging ESOL’s project envisaging the 253-km slurry transportation system from the beneficiation plant in Keonjhar to Paradip.

The tribunal has directed ESOL “not to go ahead with the project without obtaining forest clearance”.

One Sarbeswar Mishra, 64-year-old resident of Bhubaneswar, and Murli Manohar Sharma, a 46-year-old resident of Barbil area in Keonjhar, had filed the petition alleging that the work on the pipeline had been undertaken in both non-forest and forest areas without forest clearance.