Bali Jatra 2016: NGT order casts shadow on festival this year

The famous Cuttack Bali Jatra festival slated to begin from November 14 at the Mahanadi riverbed has run into rough waters with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asking the state administration to refrain from allowing traders from erecting makeshift stalls on the riverbed.

“The Tribunal has ordered us to avoid allotting plots on the riverbed for makeshift stalls,” said Cuttack District Collector N C Mishra, quoting the NGT order passed yesterday.

Mishra, however, said the state government was planning either to move the Tribunal to review its order or to appeal against the order in the Supreme Court.

The NGT, while hearing a petition filed by nature and wildlife campaigner Biswajit Mohanty highlighting the plight of the Mahanadi due to the dumping of garbage as well as encroachment, had in its July 15 interim order clearly directed the authorities not to allow any fresh encroachment on the Mahanadi river bed in Cuttack.

But recently the Cuttack district administration has started erection of temporary stalls and have begun allotment of stalls to traders on the river bed for the Baliyatra fair. Opposing the move, the petitioner has now moved the NGT again alleging violation of its order.

The petitioner alleged that the seven-day long Baliyatra attracts lakhs of revellers and during the period tonnes of garbage is generated.

“Taking note of our contentions, the NGT has issued show cause notices to the three parties as to why coercive action should not be passed against them for violating its July 15 order. The NGT has asked them to file their reply within one week,” said Mohanty. The matter will come up for hearing on November 11.

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