A seven-member expert committee constituted by National Green Tribunal (NGT) made a field visit and reviewed the Mahanadi upstream of Jobra Barrage here to ensure enforcement of applicable rules to prevent irreversible damage to the river’s floodplain and associated issues relating to the ecology, hydrology, environment and bio-diversity.
The team inspected nearly three-kilometre stretch of the river upstream of Jobra Barrage which has been reclaimed by sand filling. The committee members also interacted with Cuttack Collector Bhabani Shankar Chayani and CMC Commissioner Nikhil Pavan Kalyan, water resources officials and the petitioners accompanying the team.
The committee included former Expert Member of NGT Prof. PC Mishra, eminent ecologist and environmentalist Prof. CR Babu, Prof. KC Patra from NIT-Rourkela, Prof. AK Lohani from National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, Central Pollution Control Board member NK Biswal, Central Water Commission member Amaresh Pal Singh and nominee from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change PG Mahanta.
The committee which conducted the review will next recommend steps required for protecting the floodplain zone and the environment, and will submit its report to NGT which has fixed September 7 for further hearing on the case.
Some social activists including Pradip Kumar Patnaik had filed petition alleging that the administration violating the NGT norms and Orissa High Court order has reclaimed 424 acres of land by filling sand causing hindrance to free flow of water in the river.
Reclaiming of the river bed which was part of an attempt to monetise the vast stretch for a proposed riverfront improvement project has caused damage to the environment and the riverine ecosystem, alleged the petition. The Tribunal had earlier constituted a five-member expert committee to assess the impact of the State government’s proposal for riverfront improvement.
Source: The Indian Express
Photo courtesy: The Indian Express