Kendrapara (Odisha), Oct 9 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued notices to the central and Odisha governments seeking further clarification on the environmental impact study of a controversial drinking water project in Kendrapara district.
The NGT''s Eastern Zone Bench, Kolkata, issued the notices returnable within four weeks following alleged non-compliance of environment and social impact assessment for the Rs 892 crore water project.
It is alleged that the project will adversely affect the ecology of the Bhitarkanika National Park.
Acting on a petition, a division bench comprising Justice Amit Sthalekar and judicial member Saibal Dasgupta issued notices to central and state government agencies observing that "the matter requires consideration".
The petitioner’s counsel Anshuman Nayak submitted: “The affidavit filed before the tribunal by the Principal Secretary, government of Odisha’s water resources department has misled the tribunal as well as the people. The Environmental Impact Assessment study in the mega drinking water project is not done at all as it had been earlier stated by the government agencies."
A monitoring committee for the Bhitarkanika National Park eco-sensitive zone, which gave its nod for the project, was constituted without quorum, he claimed.
The committee had reported that a study on Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was conducted by the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad prior to the commencement of the project work. However the IIT panel had never visited the site and the study report was based on secondary data only, the petitioner''s counsel submitted.
The NGT order was issued on October 4.
The Rs 892 crore Buxi Jagabandhu Assured Water Supply to Habitations (BASUDHA) water project which seeks to divert water of Kharasrota Rive in Rajkanika block of Kendrapara, had evoked protests across Kendrapara district since the past two months.
As a precautionary measure, prohibitory orders had been enforced in Balakati, Bharigada and Barunadiha panchayats under Rajkanika block till October 8.
The project seeks to provide safe drinking water to villages in Bhadrak district where the groundwater table is reported to be heavily salinated. The project requires 105 million litre per day and less than 4 per cent of water inflow of the river will be diverted for the mega project, government officials claimed.
On the other hand, conservationists apprehend that the water level will fall drastically due to the project adversely affecting farming and ecology of the nearby Bhitarkanika National Park, which is home to the country''s second largest mangrove cover. PTI COR AAM