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Balijatra lands in NGT and administration tussle

balijatra controversy

Cuttack: The historical Balijatra has landed amid controversy with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issuing show cause notice to district administration over pollution along the Mahanadi bank and directing to stop any booking of stalls for the event in the lower ground. The administration has said it will challenge NGT’s directive. A city based organisation has filed a PIL in the High Court on Thursday to challenge the NGT directive.

The stall booking had begun on Tuesday but has now been stopped.

Setting up stalls on the lower ground will pollute the Mahanadi bank and thus all booking of stalls should be stopped immediately, said the NGT directive to district administration. Though there is no restriction till now to host the event in the upper ground, the major part of Balijatra is organised along the river bank and thus the NGT directive could lead to cancelling the event altogether. NGT also asked the administration to give the report on pollution of the Mahandi bank due to Balijatra within seven days. The Cuttack District Collector Nirmal Chandra Mishra has said the city administration will challenge this directive. A PIL has already been filed by Dipesh Mohapatra of Katak Nrutya Utsav in the High Court over the same.

“Though we will prepare the report for the show cause notice we will try our best to see that the event is organised and sentiment of Odia people is preserved since the event holds special significance in Odia culture,” said the collector.

The Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) authorities had earlier informed in a report to NGT that adequate steps have been taken to ensure pollution free Balijatra. “We have arranged two 16 seater mobile toilets worth Rs 24 lakh while dustbins have been made mandatory for all stalls. Two rounds of cleaning and sweeping have also been arranged to keep the river bank free from any pollution. Overall, we are spending around Rs 30 lakhs towards arrangements to make the event environment friendly,” a CMC official had said on Wednesday.

Balijatra info:

  • A total of 958 stalls were identified by CMC so far for this year’s Balijatra while over 1350 stalls were set up last year.
  • The stall cost has increased from Rs 8 to Rs 22 per sq feet over the last 10 years.
  • Over 3,000 street vendors would take part in the event.
  • The administration had earned Rs 26 lakh in 2006 that had increased to Rs 66 lakh in 2015.
  • Overall business to the tune of Rs 100 crores was expected at Balijatra this year.

 

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