Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kolkata, July 24:
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today conducted a hearing on a case concerning pollution and illegal construction of buildings on Odisha’s Puri coast.
A bench headed by Justice S Kumar, while accepting Odisha government’s contention vis-à-vis the use of firewood in the kitchen of Shree Jagannath Temple for preparation of Prasad and cremation of corpses at Swargadwar cremation grounds, expressed its discontentment over the felling of trees along the sea beach.
The bench questioned under what circumstances did the state government allow felling of trees along the beach instead of demolishing illegally constructed buildings along the sea beach.
The Odisha government today submitted an affidavit before the NGT on the action taken against violators of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) guidelines.
The bench fixed August 12 as the next date for hearing.
The NGT was hearing an application by green activist Subhas Datta.
The NGT had, in its earlier hearings in the case, expressed its displeasure after going through a report by the chief secretary of Odisha in which it had been stated that 316 constructions in Puri, including a renowned hotel, violate the Coastal Zone Regulations. Four of these constructions were undertaken by the Puri Municipality.
Datta had informed the NGT that two sweet water aquifers in Puri are getting depleted due to unchecked tapping.
In his petition, Datta had cited that these two aquifers are unique as there are only a few places in the world where such sweet water sources exist so close to the sea. Even the British were aware of these aquifers but did not allow them to be tapped.
Datta had alleged that the situation is so bad that the sweet water levels in these aquifers had fallen due to unregulated tapping.