No concretization of Cuttack Bali Jatra ground, commercialisation of Mahanadi river bed: NGT

Cuttack: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has disallowed the concretization of the Cuttack Bali Jatra ground and commercialisation of the Mahanadi river bed in the city. Both are part of the Balijatra River Front Improvement (BARFI) project of the Odisha Government.

The tribunal has also disallowed expansion or compacting of the Bali Jatra ground (32 acres) and directed for plantation on remaining 392 acres of land of the river bed.

The petetioners had moved the NGT alleging illegal sand filling in the Mahanadi river bed within the water area of Jobra Barrage. They further alleged that the project was an attempt to monetize the river bed for commercial purposes which will reduce the water retaining capacity of the river at Jobra Barrage.

It will cause damage to the environment and the riverine ecosystem besides affecting the free flow of water of the river bed. This will affect supply of drinking water and obstruct dredging which is necessary. This will also add to the floods in the city, they had mentioned in the petition.

The NGT had constituted a Joint Committee in this connection for identification of flood plain zone.

“While Baliyatra ground (34 acres) may be retained, though in floodplain zone, there should be no further expansion and no concretization or compacting of the said ground. Remaining 392 acres of land be used for plantation of local species and the area be developed into a Biological Park and no commercial use be allowed. State of Odisha may take steps for floodplain zoning of other major rivers,” the NGT said in its order dated September 21, 2022.

“It is made clear that no concretization of any sort will be allowed in the entire 426 acres of land. While allowing Baliyatra in 34 acres of land, all due precautions for maintaining sanitation and hygiene shall be observed,” it said.

“The State may adopt necessary safeguards for protection of 38 villages likely to be affected by floods in the periphery of Cuttack,” it added.

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