NGT bans construction on Mahanadi river bed in Odisha

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned construction of a permanent nature on the floodplain of the Mahanadi River until further notice.

The Green Court was hearing a plea which called the Baliyatra River Front Improvement Project (BRFI), under which construction was underway, an attempt to monetize the riverbed for commercial purposes which will reduce capacity water retention of the river at Jobra Dam at Cuttack and causing damage to the environment and the river ecosystem.

“No construction of a permanent nature will be permitted in the floodplain in question pending further order,” said the bench-issued order of NGT Chairman Adarsh ​​Kumar Goel.

The petition pointed out that the works in the river bed will also affect the supply of drinking water and hinder the dredging that is needed. It will also add to flooding in the city, he added.

During the hearing, plaintiff’s counsel referred to the formation of a panel appointed by NGT on December 15, 2020, in which he directed the panel to review the matter and establish standards to ensure that the Odisha State’s proposal for the construction of the medical school and the development of the riverbanks are carried out according to law, without damaging the floodplains of the rivers.

Flood zones must be identified and delimited in the light of these standards. The Committee may determine the extent of the floodplain area/active floodplain area from the edge of the river. CPCB will be the nodal agency for compliance, the attorney said, pointing to the earlier order.

On October 4, 2021, as instructed by NGT, the Central Pollution Control Board filed an affidavit that sanctioned a project called “Floodplain Zoning Study for the Identified Stretches of Mahanadi River Basin” for mapping the river using ‘satellite images, digital elevation maps, land use and land cover map showing habitation, analysis of flood frequency and delineation of floodplain areas from the edge of the river under the direction of a committee of experts.

The study found that flooding with a return period of 25 years is expected to affect about 38 villages in and around Cuttack town from Munduli dam to downstream of Jobra dam. by the National Disaster Management Authority, it does not take into account the ecological and hydrological aspects with regard to the previous NGT decree.

However, the NGT order dated February 7 stated, “We see no reason not to accept the suggestion of such further study to consider appropriate directions in the interest of the environment” while instructing a seven-member expert group to undertake a detailed study. on the measures necessary to protect the flood zone and the environment within three months before 30 April.

A new hearing on this case will take place on May 23.

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