Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kolkata, Jul 15:
The Eastern Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) today restrained the Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO) and the Puri district collector from tree felling and other ongoing construction activities for the Shamuka Tourism Project at Sipasarubali Mouza in the district.
The Tribunal issued the directive in response to a petition filed by green activist Prafulla Samantara.
Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, counsel Sankar Prasad Pani argued that the ongoing construction work and tree felling for Shamuka Project at Sipasarubali is illegal as the project has not yet been granted Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and environment clearance under the Environment Protection Act 1986.
Stating that around 28 percent of the total land in the project area is covered with trees which act as a barrier against cyclonic storms and coastal erosion, the petitioner said if the project is allowed continue, it will wreak havoc on the ecology of the area.
“The IDCO has started tree felling for approach road and boundary wall since June 5 this year, which ironically happened to be World Environment Day,” the petitioner informed the Tribunal.
After hearing the petitioner’s arguments, a division bench of the Tribunal consisting of Justice PK Ray and Prof PC Mishra asked the chief secretary, collector, SP, and the DFO of Puri to file a status report and reply to the petition within four weeks.
The Tribunal fixed the next hearing in the case on August 21.
The Shamuka Tourism Project is an ambitious project of the state Tourism department for construction of luxurious hotels and Golf course in an area of 920 acres in the ecologically sensitive coastal areas of Puri.