Deccan Cements Limited has allegedly violated environmental clearance conditions and mined limestone illegally in Suryapet district. In a recent order, the National Green Tribunal southern bench has asked the mining department to assess the value of the illegal mining quantity and recover the amount from DCL.
The key allegation is the violation of specific conditions laid down by the Union ministry of environment in EC, where DCL mined limestone in Mine-3 and Mine-2 simultaneously even before mineable ore of Mine-2 is exhausted.
DCL mined limestone of 1000 metric tons in 2014-15, 2.3 lakh MT in 2015-16 and 1.8 lakh MT in 2016-17 in Mine 3, which is termed illegal by NGT.
The NGT has issued the orders based on the petition filed byVakkanti Koteshwar Rao, a farmer from Palakeedu mandal in the Suryapet district, alleging pollution by the cement factory and violation of environmental laws.
In 2013 DCL was given the license to mine in Saidulunama reserve forest to 183 hectares in Ravi Pahad. In reply to NGT, Deccan Cements said that it has obtained all required government permission and measures to control the emissions. The company also alleged that the petitioner is a transport contractor. As his request for a transport contract was not entertained, he filed the application with a personal vendetta and ulterior motives.
In December 2019, NGT formed a joint committee of representatives of various departments to verify the allegations and the committee submitted a report in March 2020.
The report mentioned that Telangana State Remote Sensing Application Centre has conducted a survey and found that the two locations have 2.24 crore metric tons of limestone in the Sadiulunama reserve forest that was leased to DCL. DCL has mined excess than the permitted quantity of limestone for which it has paid royalty.
While issuing environmental clearance to DCL for Mine-3, the ministry has permitted the company to produce limestone at a capacity of 0.3 million tonnes per annum. It has also put out a condition that mining activity in Mine-3 at Ravi Pahad shall begin only after the Mine-2 in Mahankali Gudem has exhausted its mineral ore. However, the DCL operated Mine-3 before Mine-2 got exhausted.
The committee also levied environmental compensation of 28 lakh.