NGT refuses to allow concretisation of land in Cuttack under BARFI project

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Cuttack: National Green Tribunal has refused to allow concretisation of 426 acres of land in Cuttack under Balijatra River Front Improvement (BARFI) project.

The tribunal allowed holding of Bali Yatra in 34 acres of land and asked the Cuttack district administration to ensure sanitation and hygiene. Earlier, the NGT ordered the constitution of a seven-member committee comprising environmentalists to study the ecological and hydrological aspects and vulnerability of reclaiming the floodplains of the river and make detailed recommendations identifying the steps required for protecting the floodplain zone. The committee has been directed to submit its report within three months.

The tribunal asked both the applicant as well as the Odisha government to place their respective point of views before the committee. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) would be the nodal agency to carry out the entire exercise.Pradip Kumar Pattnaik had moved the NGT, alleging sand filling in the Mahanadi river bed within the water area of Jobra Barrage at Cuttack could cause damage to the environment and the riverine ecosystem.

According to the petitioner, the project called Balijatra River Front Improvement (BARFI) is an attempt to monetise the river bed for commercial purposes, which will reduce the water retaining capacity of the river at Jobra Barrage at Cuttack. The project would also obstruct free flow of water at the river bed, besides causing floods in the city.

Bali Jatra is held every year to commemorate and celebrate the glorious maritime history of Odisha and it draws thousands of visitors from across the state and beyond. It is believed that traders of Odisha used to make business trips through the sea route to far away islands such as Bali, Sumatra and Java in Indonesia.

The festival is celebrated as a grand open air event on Mahanadi river banks adjacent to the Barabati fort for over a week.

It is worth to mention that the district administration had cancelled the Bali Jatra in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic situation.

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