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National Green Tribunal summons Odisha government officials over Puri pollution

KOLKATA: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has summoned the principal secretary, department of environment and forests, Government of Odisha, the chief executive officer and the executive engineer of Puri Municipality to appear before it personally on March 14 to explain why adequate attention is not being paid to pollution and ecological degradation at Puri. The NGT was hearing an application by green activist Subhas Datta. During the last hearing, the officials from Odisha had been directed to submit details of the sewerage system in Puri. Datta was also granted permission to inspect the situation for himself and file a report. 

On Wednesday, though Datta submitted his report, there were none from the 
Odisha government officials. In his report, Datta submitted that the entire sewerage of Puri town is released into the sea without any treatment. Though a sewerage treatment plant exists, it is non-functional, the environment activist submitted to the court along with photographs. 

The NGT also expressed its displeasure after going through a report by the chief secretary of Odisha in which it has been stated that 316 constructions in Puri, including a renowned hotel, violate the Coastal Zone Regulations. Four of these constructions were undertaken by the Puri Municipality. Datta also informed the NGT that two sweet water aquifers in Puri are getting depleted due to unchecked tapping. 

"These two aquifers are unique as there are only a few places in the world where such sweet water sources exist so close to the sea. Even the British were aware of these aquifers but wouldn't allow them to be tapped. Today, the situation is so bad that the sweet water levels in these aquifers have fallen due to unregulated tapping. Before long, saline water will enter the aquifers," Datta submitted to the NGT. The NGT also wanted to know from officials in Odisha what action has been taken to shift the eateries in Swargdwar and summoned them.

The Times of India (19-02-2014)