BHUBANESWAR: In a setback to Odisha Government, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered that no activity should be undertaken in the Shamuka Tourism Project area until Environmental Clearance (EC) and Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) clearance are received.
Disposing of a petition filed by Prafulla Samantra of Lok Shakti Abhiyan, the Eastern Zone Bench of the NGT, in its April 7 order, issued the direction stating that State Government should not carry out any activity in the area in question in violation of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 and order of Ministry of Environment and Forest.
Last year in June, the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation and Puri district administration had started felling trees in Sipasarubali Mauza for development of Shamuka Tourism Project. This came in for protest from members of Upakuliya Jami O Jungle Surakshya Samiti but construction of approach road and boundary wall went ahead. Subsequently, a petition was filed before the NGT.
Advocate General of Odisha Surya Prasad Misra submitted before the bench that until the Environment and CRZ clearances are granted, the State Government will not go ahead with any construction activities.
Sankar Prasad Pani, who appeared for the petitioner, argued that the construction work and tree felling in Sipasarubali are illegal as the project has not been granted CRZ and EC.
The petition stated that about 28 per cent of the total land is covered with trees which acted as a natural barrier against cyclonic storms and coastal erosion. If the project is allowed, it will wreak havoc on the ecology of the area.
An ambitious project of the Government, Shamuka Tourism envisages construction of hotels and golf course in an area over 920 acre in the ecologically sensitive areas of Puri.