The plea states that the petitioner had filed a set of questions regarding the coal mine project under the Right to Information (‘RTI’) Act, 2005 on March 3, 2022 at the Birbhum District Magistrate’s office. The response to the questions provided by the WBPDCL on April 18, 2022, revealed that the environmental impact assessment for the project is yet to be undertaken, yet the land was being ‘procured’ under some official memorandum, which amounts to a clear violation of the 2013 land acquisition law.
It adds that the parts of the project area are forest land, yet there is no clarification on how many trees will have to be cut for the project and how much of land is forest land.
“There is also no transparency about the status of the groundwater and surface water in the area; and how will those, including nearby rivers be impacted by the project or how will mining of coal, particularly with use of huge explosive to break the basalt barrier, pollute the surrounding area and its habitants or how the project planned to manage huge amounts of toxic waste or preserved biodiversity. All such clarifications could be obtained through an [environmental impact assessment] and a [detailed project report], none of which have been prepared so far as admitted by the responding under RTI [Act]”, the petition reads.
The petitioner has thus urged the court to direct the respondents to cease all activities and operations relating to land acquisition and/or procurement of purchase of land for the proposed DPDH coal mining projects being undertaken by the WBPDCL and the Birbhum district administration on behalf of the allottee, owing to non-implementation of the statutory requirements.
The matter will now be heard on July 18. The petitioner was represented by advocate Jhuma Sen.