BHUBANESWAR: Chhattisgarh which is engaged in a bitter fight with Odisha over Mahanadi water sharing, received a jolt after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday barred it from operationalising 31 projects on the river.
The Eastern Zone Bench of the Tribunal at Kolkata imposed a stay on 31 projects which are either at different stages of completion or ready but awaiting operationalisation.
Many of these include industries, minor and major irrigation projects. Now, without the NGT approval, none of these projects can be activated. Several of them are Category A projects.
Activist Sudarshan Das, the petitioner in the case, said the NGT has also issued a show cause to Chhattisgarh Government to explain how it constructed the projects without conducting any study on the ecology and impact on people living in the downstream of Mahanadi. Next hearing in the case will be held on August 25.
There is a total of 81 projects constructed by Chhattisgarh on Mahanadi basin and its tributaries, Das said. Of them, he said, many have been constructed without environment clearance. However, the 31 projects whose operationalization has been stayed have been accorded environmental clearance. Convenor of Agami Odisha, Das was represented by environment lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Sreeja Chakraborty before the NGT Eastern Zone Bench which had earlier asked Chhattisgarh to present its side.
The petitioner had submitted that a large number of projects were sanctioned by Chhattisgarh without considering either the cumulative impact or impact on the downstream population as a result of the significant diversion of water from Mahanadi and its tributaries. Most of the projects involve the consumptive use of water.
Chhattisgarh was represented by its State Environment Impact Assessment Authority and Environment Conservation Board.The two states have been at loggerheads over water sharing of Chhattisgarh. While Chhattisgarh has refused to step back, Odisha Government has also approached the Supreme Court seeking a stop on all the construction works on the river by the neighbouring State.