New Delhi: In a temporary relief to Odisha in the Mahanadi case, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Monday directed the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to submit a report on action taken by the latter in connection with the six barrages constructed by Chhattisgarh on upstream Mahanadi River.
A NGT bench comprising Justice Raghubendra Singh Rathore and expert member Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal directed the ministry to file compliance report within three months before it and the Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal.
“Ministry of Environment and Forest shall act expeditiously in furtherance to the letter it has written in September 20, 2017 to Chhattisgarh and submit a report within three months before the Tribunal,” said the bench.
Citing the MoEF’s letter to Chhattisgarh, advocate Ritwick Dutta, appearing for petitioner Sudarshan Das, made an argument that the construction of six barrages on Mahanadi River is illegal. The counsel, in his argument, said that impact assessment studies have not been done and neither the Chhattisgarh government has complied with the environmental laws.
“Let MoEF execute the decision and Chhattisgarh respond to them,” the bench said.
In an oral observation, the bench had also said that the people of Odisha and Chhattisgarh are the citizens of India and an amicable solution is the only way to solve this issue.
Notably, the ministry wrote a letter, after an inspection by its Nagpur regional office, to Chhattisgarh raising objection over the construction of barrages on the river and requested Chhattisgarh to explain the reason for not informing the ministry and the Odisha government, a riparian state, about the construction of six barrages.
The Nagpur regional office of the environment ministry had conducted an inspection of all the six barrages and stated that no studies, pertaining to e-flow to be maintained in the downstream and impact on the flora and fauna in the large area to be submerged over 120 km stretch of the River, has been conducted by the implementing agency through an institute of repute. A cumulative impact assessment and carrying capacity of the river needs to be studied.