Under scanner of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Odisha Government has notified an eight-member panel, headed by Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra, which will examine the environmental issues affecting pilgrim town Puri.

The panel will shortly visit Puri and suggest strategies that need to be adopted for controlling the alarming levels of pollution in the town, particularly Swargadwar area as well as Sri Jagannath Temple.

The committee, which comprises Additional Chief Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Department, Secretary and Forest and Environment Department among others, will submit comprehensive remedial measures to the NGT before December 5.

Hearing an application, last month, the Tribunal had pointed out the shoddy environmental parameters of the famous tourist town basing on a report of the State Pollution Control Board.

While the high-level committee will look into waste management, including collection and treatment of sewage as well as garbage and propose its disposal in a time-bound manner, a major task entrusted to it is to evaluate if the local authorities can collect a fee from polluters as per ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.

A major task for the panel is to assess the unauthorised construction along the sea shore and also those falling within 500 metre from the high tide line defined under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). It will also report to the NGT what actions the Government has taken against the illegal constructions in the CRZ zone.

The panel will also assess if stacks can be provided in all cooking chullahs of the temple as well as the cremation grounds so that air pollution is controlled. Similarly, the possibility of establishment of a plant for disposal of bio-medical waste including remnants of cremated bodies will also be analysed by it.

In its report, the pollution board had found that quality parameters of water samples, drawn from Peja Nullah which drains the discharges from Jagannath Temple kitchen into the municipal drain, were way beyond the permissible limits.

Air quality of the town was found to have been affected by the smoke emanating from the cremation ground. Similarly, plastics constituted half of the municipal waste in the town, while sewage collection, treatment and disposal system at Banki Muhan is defunct.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express