Ranchi, Aug. 1: Jharkhand High Court today directed East Singhbhum deputy commissioner to probe into the alleged dumping of slag by Tata Steel in Kharkai and Subernarekha rivers in Jamshedpur.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice H.C. Mishra were hearing a public interest litigation on encroachment of water bodies. Former BJP legislator Sarayu Roy had filed an application telling the court that the steel giant had been dumping slag in the rivers, which obstructed their flow.
Tata Steel, while accepting that slag was being dumped, said it was done in public interest. Slag, dumped along the banks of the two rivers till 2003, helped in checking frequent flash floods, an affidavit of the company said.
Roy’s counsel, senior advocate S.N. Pathak, however, said that 11km of the Subernarekha’s river bank had been affected due to slag dumping by the company. The company continued to dump slag on the banks, which caused the riverbed to become shallow and narrow, he said.
The bench, apparently not convinced by the affidavit of the steel company, said it seemed to be “cleverly drafted”. It observed that the company accepted that slag had been dumped on river beds, but took refuge in saying it was in public interest.
The court asked the deputy commissioner to personally survey river banks and compile a detailed report in the next 30 days. In her report, Pande will have to mention if slag was still being dumped in rivers and if they had become shallow in consequence.
Pathak said most water bodies were plagued with hyacinth overgrowth. The state pollution control board and the state government knew about it, but had done nothing to salvage matters, he added.