Odisha defiesBy Nageshwar Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, July 23, 2015 :

In total defiance of the National Green Tribunal’s order to stay any construction in an area covering 928 acres falling under Coastal Regulatory Zone-I, the Naveen Patnaik government is continuing with its much hyped Shamuka Tourism Project near Puri.

“The Odisha government does not bother about judicial orders. It is carrying on construction of boundary wall in the Shamuka Project in total defiance of NGT’s order for injunction from construction in the area”, Srikant Mohanty, secretary, Odisha Chasi Mulia Sangh on Thursday said.

The Tribunal comprising of Justice Pratap Kumar Ray, judicial member, Dr P. C. Mishra, expert member in its order last week said, “Having regard to the gravity of the issue relating to the felling of trees illegally and violation of environmental norms over the land falling under CRZ-I under mouza Sipasarubali, district Puri, there will be an injunction restraining the concerned respondents from further tree felling and construction in the area”,

The Shamuka tourism project launched 25 years ago was to come up on around 3000 acres of land near Sipasarubali, about 10 km south of Puri on the public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

The state government had lined up an investment of Rs 120 crore on external infrastructure like water supply, electricity and roads for the project.

The tourism department has decided to execute the Shamuka tourism complex in a phased manner.

In the first phase, bids were planned to be invited for four five star hotels and a golf course after obtaining necessary approval from the appropriate authority.

The three five star hotels will be spread over an area of 20 acres each while the fourth one will be established on 40 acres of land. Similarly, bids will be invited for a golf course with golf villas covering 304 acres of land in the first phase of implementation.

Apart from the four five star hotels, the Shamuka complex would have facilities like a convention centre of international standard with a seating capacity of nearly 1,500, boutique hotels, international spa and wellness centres, an entertainment zone and sports facilities.

The petitioner, Prafulla Samantray has told the Trbunal that the project has not obtained any clearance from the Authority of Coastal Regulatory Zone. He also alleged that no environmental clearance has also been granted by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) to undertake such project and as evidence; he had submitted photographs to show felling of so many trees clearing the land.

He also informed the Tribunal that despite the protests and representations filed to the District Collector and also District Forest Officer of Puri District, nothing as yet has been done and the work is in progress.

“Having regard to the contention made, we are satisfied that a substantial environmental issue has been raised. Considering that aspect of the matter, the application is admitted for hearing’, the bench observed.

The Tribunal also directed Odisha Chief Secretary and the Puri District Magistrate and Collector to “make all endeavours to implement this order forthwith”.

It also asked them to submit the status report and action taken report within a month.

The Bench has restrained the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation managing director to take further construction and also felling of trees without leave of this Tribunal.

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