File picture of Puri Swargdwar
Calcutta, Feb. 12: The eastern zonal bench of the National Green Tribunal has expressed severe displeasure over Odisha government's failure to implement its earlier order on controlling water pollution in Puri and directed the state's chief secretary to ensure "effective implementation of the directions".
The senior-most administrative official of the state was also asked to be a party in the case filed by environmentalist Subhas Datta.
"We are... of the view that considering the criticality of the issues involved in this case wherein several departments and authorities are involved, the chief secretary, government of Odisha, should also be included as one of the respondents in order to ensure effective implementation of the directions issued by us which thus far have not been satisfactory" said the bench comprising of S.P. Wangdi and expert member P.C. Mishra.
While the hearing took place on February 6, the order was made public recently.
The issue in question is preparation of a detailed project report regarding construction of a sewer network and treatment of wastewater that flows into the open drains and then into stormwater channels before emptying into the sea. While the bench had earlier asked the Puri Municipality to prepare the report, in its February 6 order, it directed the state water resources department to prepare the plan "urgently".
The bench has also asked the department to provide necessary funds "to ensure early completion of the project in the larger public interests and the environment" and has sought an action-taken report on or before the next date of hearing.
"We find the respondent departments and other authorities have adopted a 'pass the buck' attitude avoiding taking any substantive action in compliance to our directions issued in the interest of public which is writ large from what will appear in the records of the case that has been pending since the year 2013," observed the bench.
"While there has been some work in controlling sewage discharge from hotels and other constructions recently, a drain built on the sea beach has bypassed the water treatment facility," said petitioner Datta.
A few days ago, the bench of the National Green Tribunal passed several strictures to improve the environment of Puri, including imposing injunction on a realty project and making rainwater harvesting mandatory in government buildings.