It has been unanimously decided in the meeting that this year Visva-Bharati University (VBU) will organise the Poush Mela after a hiatus of three years.
The Eastern Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the Odisha government to put to use satellite imagery for monitoring the volume of sand extracted and transported from the Mahanadi riverbed to keep a tab on excess sand mining in the riverbed.
Expressing concern over the excess sand lifting, the apex green panel laid down basic principles to be followed for sand extraction from the riverbed.
The NGT’s directions were in response to petitions filed by Srikanta Kumar Pakala and Nabakishore. The petitions highlighted that indiscriminate extraction of sand through the mechanical means, which was not permissible in law, was leading to degradation of riverbed.
Vehicles transporting sand and minerals should be fixed with electronic devices such as Global Positioning System (GPS) which would facilitate and track movement of vehicles helping in checking illegal transportation of sand. CCTV cameras should be installed at strategic locations to prevent illegal sand mining, the NGT directed.
The green tribunal also ordered for the study on annual replenishment of sand should be carried out, which would serve as a guideline for allocation of various sand mining leases and determine the quantity of sand to be permitted for extraction.
“Sand mining in river Mahanadi should be carried out as per the provisions and guidelines of Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines 2016 and Enforcement and Monitoring Guidelines for Sand Mining, 2020,” the panel directed.
The sand mining leaseholder had allegedly pressed into service three earthmovers and more than 200 heavy vehicles for the sand mining and transportation operations. That was in gross violation of the mining plan as well as the environmental clearance, Sankar Prasad Pani, counsel for the petitioner, had pointed out.