The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the State government not to undertake permanent construction activity on the floodplains of Mahanadi River meandering through the Cuttack city.
A six-member special bench of NGT, disposing of two separate petitions on the alleged damage to the environment and the riverine ecosystem in the Mahanadi river bed within the water area of Jobra Barrage at Cuttack, imposed ban on permanent construction and eviction of illegal encroachments on the riverbed and floodplain areas of the river
“No construction of permanent nature will be allowed in the flood plain in question pending further order”, the NGT special bench directed in a judgment recently.
“The District Administration of Cuttack shall ensure that no construction debris/waste, municipal wastes etc. are illegally dumped on the river beds. In case of violation of this direction the local authority shall impose appropriate penalty to be decided by them, confiscate the vehicles and machinery and initiate criminal proceedings against the violators”, it ruled.
All illegal encroachments of the river banks/beds of Mahanadi and Kathjodi at Cuttack shall be evicted by the District Administration and all illegal constructions on the river bank/bed shall be removed following the provisions of law and an action taken report shall be filed by the authorities every six months in the Registry.
The NGT however allowed the organization of the annual Baliyatra festival on Mahanadi riverbed subject to compliance of pollution control norms.
“We allow the Baliyatra festival to be held in the Balijatra field (Kila Maidan) between Barabati Stadium & Gadagadia temple as well as in the silted-up alluvium space on north side of river embankment (extended Balijatra field), the areas where the festival was held during 2016”.
The distance of the river flow from the border of the extended site shall be a minimum of 50 metre. The festival site shall be declared as a Plastic Free Zone by the authorities.
The solid waste generated during the festival shall be regularly collected on a daily basis by the municipal corporation for appropriate disposal. Throwing of such wastes on river bed and burning of such wastes shall be strictly prohibited.
Appropriate arrangement shall be made for proper drainage of waste water from the festival site to the nearest municipal drain.
The public and vendors shall be informed through announcement and distribution of leaflets about their role for making the area clean and pollution free. The organizer shall prepare a guideline for an eco-friendly Baliyatra festival.
The Balijatra site shall be completely restored by the 9th day of the commencement of the festival.
A compliance report shall be filed by the District Collector in the Registry of the NGT within a month of completion of Baliyatra every year, the NGT directed while posting the matter for further hearing on 23 May next.