Pradeep Pattanayak

The Odisha government’s much-hyped Baliyatra Riverfront Improvement (BARFI) project has run into rough weather with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) denying concrete work on the 462 acres land identified for the project. 

The special bench of NGT recommended that the whole reclaimed land measuring 392 acres of Baliyatra ground may be used for plantation with appropriate local species and the area may be developed into a Biological Park, reviving the old channels buried under the sand. 

Similarly, the bench also recommended that 2/3rd of the reclaimed land be developed as a dense forest and 1/3rd may be developed as parks and playgrounds without allowing any commercial activities. 

While allowing the holding of Baliyatra festival on 34 acres of land, the tribunal has asked the administration to ensure maintaining precautions relating to sanitation and hygiene. 

The green tribunal in its order specified that after developing the forest, the same is to be handed over to the forest department, after demarcation. The rest of the area may be maintained by concerned local body/Flood and Irrigation department, as may be decided by the Government of Odisha.  

This apart, the State government has been directed to take steps for the protection of 38 villages that are likely to face flood threat in the periphery of Cuttack city.

The BARFI project included setting up of musical fountain, light system, garden, footpath, coffee bar, lavatory, ticket counter and special galleries along the stretch from Cantonment Police Station to Jobra Maritime Museum.