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Clearance cloud over sea wall - Geotube project to check soil erosion at Pentha

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By MANOJ KAR
  • Published 21.06.14
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Kendrapara, June 20: Work on the World Bank-funded geotube project to check sea erosion at Pentha in the Rajnagar area of the district runs the risk of being stopped midway with the forest department objecting to its execution without mandatory clearances.

The Rajnagar mangrove (wildlife) forest division has written to the water resources department, seeking suspension of the work till it gets the necessary clearance from the competent authorities.

Part of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, the geotube wall is being erected with the technical expertise and guidance of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Chennai, to stop the marauding sea from making further inroads into Pentha village and its adjoining areas. Geotubes are made of synthetic material and filled with sand to block the tidal surges from the sea.

“The project has been accorded the environment and CRZ clearance. However, it has not been given forest and wildlife clearance. The clearance of this nature is a must as the project site is located close to the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary and forest areas,” said officer of the Rajnagar mangrove (wildlife) forest division Kedar Kumar Swain.

He said the saline embankment division of the government to obtain clearance from national wildlife board before going further with the project.

“The construction agencies have been warned to stop work. Any defiance would mean infringement of the Forest Conservation Act and the Wildlife Protection Act. Penal action would be accordingly initiated against the authorities,” he said.

The officer, however, sought to make it clear that the department was not against the geotube sea-wall project, which was crucial to prevent sea erosion.

“However, it needs to be implemented within the parameters of the forest and wildlife laws,” said Swain.

Executive engineer of the saline embankment division Jugal Kishore Tripathy said: “Steps are being taken to obtain necessary clearance from the competent authorities.” The question, however, is whether the Rs 33-crore project can now meet the March 2015 deadline.

“The proposal for geo-synthetic tube wall was mooted in 2008. However for a variety of reasons the project got delayed. Work on it began recently under the technical supervision of engineers deputed by the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project and coastal embankment division of the state government,” said Tripathy.

Environment activist Biswajit Mohanty said: “The beach at Pentha is one of the mass-nesting sites of Olive Ridley sea turtles within the Gahirmatha sanctuary. The Gahirmatha area was declared a marine sanctuary in 1997 to protect the turtles. But, the government is now illegally building a seawall within the sanctuary area without obtaining any permission from the forest department.”