2 October 2022.
The NGT has directed the state government of Odisha to revive Sukapaika River within 6 months.
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has instructed the Odisha government to revive Sukapaika River, a distributary of Mahanadi River.
- It has directed the state government to create a dedicated fund for this river’s revival.
- The tribunal also directed the Odisha government to make budgetary allocation of Rs.49.67 crore to rejuvenate the river within one month and complete the whole river revival project by March 13, 2023.
- NGT alleged that the Sukapaika river in Cuttack district became dead because of the closure of its mouth in the 1950s.
- Sukapaika river originates from Ayatur Village in Cuttack district and flows some 40 km before re-joining the Mahanadi River in Tarapur in the same district.
- When it was flowing freely, Sukapaika river acted as a source of drinking water, irrigation and other livelihood opportunities to over 425 villages under 26 gram panchayats.
- Residents of these villages cultivated potato, tomato, cauliflower etc., and were involved in fisheries. These economic activities have ceased to be lucrative after the closure of the river’s mouth.
- In 1952, the Odisha government blocked the starting point of the river with an embankment to prevent flooding in the delta of Sukapaika.
- In 1957, two major projects – Hirakud Dam and Naraj barrage – were built on Mahanadi River to curb flooding.
- However, the embankment at the starting point of Sukapiaka river was not removed, leaving the distributary completely dependent on rainwater.
- Since the river has lost its water holding capacity, it remains dry for almost the whole year.
- This has negatively affected half-a-million people in the villages in the region.
- The riverbed has been eroded and is invaded by hyacinth.
- Several encroachments have started taking place along the course of the dead river over the years and the entire riverbed was converted into a dumping ground for solid and liquid wastes.