National Green Tribunal directs to revive Sukapaika river in Odisha, in next six months

Sukapaika River became dead following closure of its mouth in 1950s.

Published - October 01, 2022 11:40 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

A file photo of the National Green Tribunal, in New Delhi.

A file photo of the National Green Tribunal, in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Odisha government to revive a dead river in next six months by earmarking dedicated fund for the purpose.

It was alleged that the river Sukapaika (a branch of river Mahanadi) in Cuttack district became dead after its mouth was closed restricting its free flow in 1950s. The entire river bed was converted into a dumping ground for garbage and solid and liquid waste. Seven petitioners had moved the tribunal seeking its revival.

In his affidavit filed last year, Odisha’s Chief Engineer (Drainage) said Sukapaika River, a dead river, originates from Mahanadi River, having its mouth at Ayatpur.

“It traverses a length of 27.50KM and then falls at Bankala in the same Mahanadi River. It covers three blocks such as Cuttack Sadar, Raghunathpur and Nichintakoili of Cuttack. The mouth of the river was closed during the year 1950 for development of Taladanda Canal System and for flood protection in the delta of Sukapaika,” the affidavit said.

The decision was apparently taken to close the mouth of river Sukapaika as it would not create any water crisis because the area is covered with many waterbodies and tanks having sufficient ground water reserve.

Subsequently, people started residing in the nearby areas and encroaching upon the river at many places thereby obstructing storage and free passage of water to its tail end.

However, a public hearing was held at Kishannagar on January 18, 2020 to reopen the mouth. The project was approved by the 133rd State Technical Advisory Committee of Flood Control Board for ₹44.04 crores on April 29, 2021.

In another affidavit, it was stated that there would be construction of one sluice on Mahanadi Right embankment, construction of cross drainage work over distributary of Taladanda Canal, construction of four village road-bridge and renovation of entire drainage channel. Land acquisition was recommended by the committee.

It is also stated that the State government had approved ₹49.67 crores for rejuvenation of Sukapaika Drainage Channel which would be submitted to the government for Budgetary provisions for the year 2022-23.

The technical committee also noted that the observations at gauge site on Mahanadi River at Kisannagar from the year 2017 and 2021 show that the flood water level at the site is above 13 metre for 13 days to 44 days in a year in the monsoon period.

“As the proposed sluice site at Ayatpur is situated at 9KM upstream of the gauge site, the corresponding flood water level at the intake sluice point will be about 14.50m to 15m during this period. This will facilitate entry of Mahanadi flood water to Sukapaika Drainage Channel for more number of days in a year than those observed at Kisannagar,” the Committee pointed out.

Amit Sthalekar, Judicial Member of the eastern zone bench of NGT, and Saibal Dasgupta, expert member, directed the State to make Budgetary allocation of ₹49.67 crore for rejuvenation of Sukapaika within a period of one month and complete the entire project for rejuvenation by March 13 next year.

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