Bhubaneswar: The Eastern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked a special committee to examine the allegations of exploitation of the Mahanadi riverbed by the proposed Baliyatra Riverfront Improvement (BARFI) project.
The bench declined to pass any fresh order on the issue of encroachment on the Mahanadi riverbed in Cuttack as it had already passed a detailed order on the issue.
In a similar matter, the environment watchdog had earlier asked the state government to constitute an expert committee and look into the issue as well as frame rules for the conservation of the Mahanadi riverbed, sources said.
“Most of the grievances in the present application are within the purview of the above committee and thus, the applicant be allowed to represent to the committee,” the NGT order said.
It also said, “Accordingly, we permit the applicant to represent his grievances to the committee through Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within two weeks.
The committee may consider the same and give its consolidated report on the issues already referred as well as the issues raised in the representation of the applicant report to this tribunal within two months,” the order added.
The NGT said that based on the observations of the committee, the statutory authorities would be free to take appropriate preventive and remedial action, following due process of law.
The NGT had ordered constitution of a committee comprising representatives from the Central Water Commission (CWC), a nominee from the Forest and Environment Ministry, CPCB, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee and others to study the issue.
The applicant, Pradip Kumar Pattnaik, had approached the NGT on the issue of alleged illegal sand filling in Mahanadi riverbed within the water area of Jobra Barrage in Cuttack. It was claimed that illegal activity is causing damage to the environment and the riverine ecosystem.
It was alleged that the BARFI project was an attempt to monetise the riverbed for commercial purpose which is likely to reduce the water-retaining capacity of Jobra Barrage in Cuttack. Concerns have also been raised on the free flow of water post-implementation of the project.