PURI:In a major jolt to the State Government, work on its most ambitious tourism project - Shamuka - was stayed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday.
The mega tourism project was coming up at Sipasarubali area on the eastern part of the town along Puri beach and Tourism Department had roped in IDCO to implement it.
The Kolkata bench of NGT has stayed all kinds of construction activities and felling of trees at the project site and issued notices to Chief Secretary, Puri Collector, DFO and SP to file their statements over the issue within a month.
Justice Pratap Ray and Justice PC Mishra of the bench gave the decision after hearing the petition filed by social activist, Prafulla Samantray. He had alleged that there has been large-scale felling of trees by IDCO for the project in the ecologically fragile area, which comes under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ Grade 1 and 3). Under the CRZ norms, any construction in such areas need clearance from Coastal Zone Management Authority and an Environment Impact Assessment report by the State Government. “The Shamuka Project had no such clearances,” Samantray alleged in his petition.
The project was planned over 3,000 acres of land on the sea beach and in first phase, development plans were made over an area of 972 acres by the Department of Tourism. The project was visualised as a one stop rejuvenation facility for domestic and international tourists.
The principal project components were star hotels, resorts, international convention centre, golf course, golf villas, cultural villages, craft bazaar, gurukul, on-site infrastructure with a total capital investment of `116.59 crore.
In the first phase, IDCO started construction of a boundary wall around the project area and thousands of trees were felled. Subsequently in 2007, the Puri Beach Protection Council raised hue and cry over felling of trees for the project and it was resolved in a meeting of Tourism Department, district administration and Puri Konark Development Authority (PKDA) that no tree would be cut for infrastructure development of Shamuka.
The NGT considered this resolution and admitted the case besides issuing notices to the officials concerned.
Shamuka, apparently, has been the slowest project being implemented by the Tourism Department so far.