A comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan for mitigation of impact which would be caused by operation of stone quarries in Khaira Tehsil near Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary, Balasore had been prepared by the Divisional Forest Officer, Wildlife Division, Balasore and was approved by the Government of Odisha.
It was noted in the said plan that 97 stone quarries are located immediately south to the Hadgarh Kuldiha Elephant Corridor which is a part of the traditional Similipal – Hadgarh – Kuldiha Elephant Corridor.
Tehsildar Khaira had issued an advertisement inviting applications from interested persons for long term lease of Sarisua Kapilajhari Bandhanata – 97 Sairat Source (Minor Minerals) for a period of five years from the year 2017-18 to 2021-22.
Environmental clearances were granted by the District Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) for the stone quarries on recommendation of the DEAC, pursuant to which quarrying operations were started by the Appellants and other lease holders in March, 2018.
However, the NGT on a plea filed by Rural Organisation for Social Empowerment had directed that no mining activity shall be permitted within and in the vicinity of Simplipal – Hadagarh – Kuldiha – Simplipal elephant corridor.
It ordered the completion of the process under Section 36 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for declaration of conservation reserve in respect of the elephant corridor within a period of three months.
It also directed the State Government to take steps for bringing the entire corridor within the ambit of the ecosensitive zone and prohibit ingress into the eco-sensitive zone.
The lease holders of the stone quarries appealed against this order before the Supreme Court.