Private firm draws power through reserve forest posing risks to jumbos

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Keonjhar: A few days after irregularities committed by Pro-Mineral at Basantpur under Jhumpura block in Keonjhar were exposed by the mines department, another illegal act by the company has come to the fore.

In violation of the existing forest protection and wildlife protection Acts, the company had drawn high voltage transmission lines for its use in Naibuga reserve forest where elephants have been roaming.

The forest department has taken this transgression seriously and decided to conduct an investigation into it.

DFO Santosh Joshi said the company has illegally drawn 33KV lines inside the reserve forest for its use. “The matter will be looked into,” he added.

Such illegality came to the fore through an RTI investigation.

Local resident and environmentalists wondered how the forest department could not detect the blatant violation by the company. It must have taken the firm a long time to install utility poles and fix high tension wires in Naibuga reserve forest. They sought to know whether the forest department kept quiet while such illegal act was being committed.

They have demanded stern action against the company for violating the Forest Protection Act.

It was learnt that the plant management was using high tension wires for its plant after getting approval from the energy department. After estimate by the department, the company was issued safety certificate and power was supplied through reserve forest.

Later, due to some mishaps, the power supply was disconnected. Though locals had been drawing attention of the energy and the forest departments, no action was taken for investigation.

Nesco superintending engineer Narayan Das has put the blame onto the company. “The company had itself drawn wires and his department had only estimated the cost,” he explained.

Usually, the electrical wing of Nesco is supposed to look into such illegal acts.

K Mohanty, superintending engineer (electrical, investigation wing) said he has not received any complaint in this regard. “If he gets any company, action will be taken,” he added. Now power supply was cut to the company, he added.

Srinibash Behera, a senior officer of the Pro-Mineral, said the plant has been lying closed and there has been no act of illegality.

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