Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 23:

Officials of Union Ministries of Environment & Forest and Water Resources today appeared before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Eastern Bench Kolkata during a hearing on Mahanadi dispute.

Officials of both the departments have assured the NGT to place their contentions before it on the issue during the next hearing.

Interestingly enough, representatives of Odisha and Chhattisgarh were absent during the hearing. The NGT has expressed its disappointment over their absence.

The green watchdog has warned both sides of strong action if they fail to present themselves at the next hearing.

The NGT has fixed the next date of hearing on the matter for April 10.

Notably, the national green panel was conducting a hearing on a petition filed by Agami Odisha, an apolitical forum,

The green watchdog had admitted Agami Odisha’s petition on January 31 and had served notices to the Centre and state governments of Chhattisgarh and Odisha, asking them to file their replies by February 23.

The forum in its petition has sought the national green watchdog to immediately intervene and direct Chhattisgarh government to stop constructions upstream of Mahanadi. It has cited that construction of these projects would deeply affect lives of people in Odisha.

The forum has contended that projects coming up in Chhattisgarh on Mahanadi have been given environment impact assessment clearance by the State Impact Assessment Authority or the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) without consulting Odisha.

Agami Odisha has prayed before the NGT that no project be given clearance without holding a public hearing.

It has also prayed for cumulative assessment and downstream assessment of the project as these projects coming up in Chhattisgarh will affect Odisha.