Other States

NGT asks Odisha not to go ahead with Shamuka Tourism Project

After Eastern Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal directed Odisha government not to undertake any activities in Shamuka Tourism Project, Puri, villagers have announced to start plantation afresh in the areas, where hundreds of trees were felled for the project.

The NGT has asked the government not to implement Shamuka Tourism Project (STP), the largest tourism project conceptualised by Odisha government in the State, till the grant of environmental clearance and coastal regulatory zone clearance by the respective statutory authorities in favour of the project.

Buoyed by the NGT order on STP, members of Upakuliya Jami O Jungle Surakshya Samiti (UJJSS), which has been spearheading people’s agitation, here on Friday said the damaged done to environment by the government would be restored.

“On June 5, 2014, Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) and Puri district administration, in presence of 14 platoons of police force had felled thousands of trees in Sipasarubali Mouza for development of STP. As many as 27 persons mostly women were arrested by police force. Now, the project that has progressed so far is unlawful, we will start planting trees to bring back earlier shape of the area,” said Prafulla Samantra, the petitioner who had moved NGT against implementation of tourism in ecologically sensitive zone.

The UJJSS said the government had constructed boundary wall and two approach roads after clearing thick forested area.

The STP planned over around 3000 acres of area at Sipasarubali area close to Puri town is an ambitious tourism project of the government, which has been trying to make it happen during past two decades. In the first phased, the government had started working for facilitating construction of luxurious hotels and golf course in an area of 920 acre area there.

“The ongoing construction work and tree felling STP is illegal as the project has not been granted Coastal Regulation Zone and Environment Clearance under Environment Protection Act 1986,” said Shanar Pani, counsel of Mr. Samantra, who had argued that 28 per cent of the total land covered with trees used to act as a natural barrier against cyclonic storms and coastal erosion. The IDCO was permitted to fell 1035 trees.

The State government through its Advocate General submitted before the court that until the environment and CRZ clearance were granted to state government, agencies would not go ahead with any construction activities.

After NGT verdict was pronounced, Srikant Mohanty, who was leading the protest, demanded that the area should be declared as ecologically sensitive area and all construction should be demolished immediately.

“The officers responsible for such illegal construction should be penalised. The recent order justifies people’s opposition to the construction by IDCO,” Mr. Mohanty said.


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Printable version | Aug 18, 2022 2:07:24 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ngt-asks-odisha-not-to-go-ahead-with-shamuka-tourism-project/article8481492.ece