Today's Paper

NGT issues bailable warrant against Odisha Minister

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued bailable warrants against Odisha’s Environment Minister and ASI chief over the non-appearance of anyone from their behalf to respond to the issue of environmental pollution around the famous Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri.

A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also issued a bailable warrant against the Principal Secretary of Odisha government’s Department of Forest and Environment as no one has appeared on the official’s behalf either.

Issuing warrants for Rs. 20,000 each, the bench fixed the matter for August 23.

The order came on a plea by environmental activist Subhas Datta, who has challenged the practice of the temple’s open-air kitchen using firewood to cook food for devotees, on the grounds that use of wood creates environmental hazard by spreading smoke and causes deforestation.

He sought that an alternative like LPG be used and if such a change is opposed, then an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) be installed to absorb the smoke generated by the kitchen, which is said to have a capacity of cooking for one lakh people.

Mr. Datta has also sought directions to the government to declare a one km radius around the temple as air pollution control area where massive burning of firewood should be restricted. Mr. Datta has also sought relocation of ‘Swarg Dwar’, the cremation ground at Puri, saying the ash generated by burning of bodies allegedly blows into the nearby open-air kitchen of the temple.

He also said that if relocation of the cremation ground was not feasible, an electric crematorium could be constructed or a roof installed over the burning ghat and a chimney fixed.

Mr. Datta has also sought directions to the State to “not allow any restrictive business or commercial activities within the beach area or the Coastal Regulation Zone” of Puri and to “demolish all unauthorised construction there at the earliest.”

He alleged that instead of planting trees on the beach to stabilise sand dunes, the area was being taken over by commercial establishments like hotels.

This could result in environmental problems as Puri was located in a high damage risk zone.

He sought implementation of “measures to stop all discharge of untreated sewage and drainage water into the sea”, especially close to the beach as lakhs of tourists visit the town to bathe in the seawater. — PTI

Datta challenged the temple’s open-air kitchen’s practice of using firewood

Commercial establishments in Puri are “encroaching upon the beach”

The order came on a plea by environmental activist Subhas Datta

Recommended for you