Odisha: NGT Panel Fears Threat To Jobra Barrage From Mahanadi Riverbed Land Reclamation

Bhubaneswar: An expert committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has voiced apprehension that reclamation of 426 acres of Mahanadi riverbed may pose threat to the Jobra barrage and trigger floods in Odisha’s Cuttack city and areas along the embankments.

In the event of an extreme flood, there is also a likelihood of the barrage getting washed away, the panel has warned in its report to the tribunal bench.

Stating that the 426 acre dump is on the floodplain of the Mahanadi river, which was submerged due to the barrage, the report said sand has been dumped on a stretch of 5 km length and 0.5 km to 1.2 km width on the river bed.

Enhanced resistance to floodway of waters had resulted in hydrological and ecological vulnerability due to possible drastic reduction in the water retaining quantity/capacity of the reservoir, the seven-member panel said in its report.

“As a consequence, floodwaters may breach embankments leading to flooding of the city and human habitations located along the embankments, particularly during extreme events of flooding due to climate change, as it has happened in the past not only in India but also outside India,” it said.

The floodwaters may lead to the washing away of the barrage, causing flash floods in the downstream that not only will submerge crop fields and destroy villages but also drastically alter the downstream river ecosystems, particularly floodplain ecosystems, it said.

The expert committee was constituted in response to two petitions which sought intervention against the reclaiming of the riverbed claiming that it caused damage to the environment and the riverine ecosystem.

The committee, in its report submitted to the NGT’s East Zone bench in Kolkata recently, has also observed that the 426 acre of the flood plain of the riverbed has been illegally reclaimed while recommending against further expansion of the extended 34 acre Bali Jatra ground on the riverbed near Gadagadia Ghat in the millennium city.

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