Bhubaneswar: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Kolkata today ordered Odisha government to stop environmentally damaging construction works which are underway in Sikharchandi Hills on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, saying that it is a part and parcel of Chandaka Wildlife Division.
Apart from negating the construction activity, a four-member vacation bench of the NGT constituted a four-member joint committee supposedly to conduct an independent inquiry into the issue.
“Grievance in this application is against damage to the environment by construction works including earth moving, blasting of rocks, and felling of trees in Sikharchandi Hills, a part of Chandaka Wildlife Division in Khurda, Odisha. According to the applicants, Sikharchandi Hill is a part of the Eastern Ghat mountains, which is extremely rich in bio-diversity with varied flora and fauna. Various rare species of wild and medicinal plants are abundant in this hill area. There is no forest clearance for cutting of trees as per Forest (Conservation) Act,” an order of the NGT issued in this regard mentioned.
“Having regard to the irreversible consequences of the ongoing project, we direct that the project, in question, may be held in abeyance till the next date of hearing,” the NGT bench said.
“Accordingly, with a view to independently ascertain the factual position, we constitute a four-member joint Committee to be headed by the Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), Regional Office, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in Bhubaneswar with other members being representatives of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and District Magistrate, Khurda,” the apex green panel emphasized in its order.
The Committee is to meet within a week, undertake visit to the site, interact with the stakeholders concerned including WATCO and after ascertaining factual position, particularly with regard to illegal felling of trees, loss of bio-diversity and other damages to the environment, including cutting of the hill, is to submit a factual and action taken report to the Tribunal within three weeks.
The next date of hearing for further consideration has been scheduled for July 5, 2023.
Worth mentioning, a local resident named Sachin Mohapatra had drawn the attention and sought NGT’s intervention against damage to the environment being caused by the construction works.