Bhubaneswar: Despite opposition from environmentalists and experts overuse of floodplains of Mahanadi river in Cuttack and other districts for human-related activities and construction, the Odisha government is determined to go ahead with its plans.
Sources said that the Mahanadi floodplain will be used to develop parking spaces, playgrounds of BOSE and SCB Medical College and other amenities for citizens of Cuttack. Dredging of the Mahanadi has already started with funding from a PSU. It has provided funds to the tune of `300 crore.
The alleged dumping of sand to low lying areas and utilising it for urban development have come under the scanner of environmentalists. Officials of Water Resources department, however, clarified that dredging is being carried out as per the 2012 Orissa High Court order and recommendations of IIT (Madras).
However, threats regarding the Baliyatra River Front Improvement (BARFI) project were allayed by the department. “There is no project named BARFI on pen and paper. It was an imaginary announcement made by the then Cuttack district collector. River dredging and filling of low lying areas on the Mahanadi floodplains are in accordance with law,” an official from the State Water Resource department, said Wednesday.
There is however, no clear cut demarcation of the Mahanadi floodplain and that is attracting the wrath of the environmentalists. They said that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had earlier asked for a clear cut demarcation policy. However, it is yet to get one.
Sources said, that the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela in association with National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee are now working together to formulate the policies for demarcation of the sensitive zones on Mahanadi river floodplains.
Environmentalists have pointed out if floodplains are plundered through man-made projects in an indiscriminate manner, it will lead to a number of major problems. The threat of urban flooding will increase manifold. Also loss of trees will lead to climate changes and Cuttack city may suffer due to groundwater contamination.
The NGT earlier had lamented that there is a dearth of laws both at the central and state-level to regulate utilisation of floodplains. It pointed out that only a few Indian states have some local norms rules related to their river floodplains. However, there should be proper regulations both at the central and state levels to control the indiscriminate use of floodplains.
Manish Kumar, OP