Odisha to Modi: Don’t notify river regulation zones

Bhubaneswar, May 3 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the proposed notification of river conservation zones, calling it “non-implementable”.

In a letter to Modi, Patnaik said the notification would also have “severe anti-developmental consequences for Odisha”.

“It appears that the proposed notification is non-implementable in its present form and will have severe anti-developmental consequences for Odisha. In view of the above, I request you not to be in haste in implementing the proposed notification,” Patnaik said in the letter.

The draft notification seeks to declare river stretches and floodplain zones as river conservation zones (RCZs) and prohibit/regulate a large number of activities in these zones. It identifies three zones along river banks: prohibited activities zone (RCZ-PA), restricted activities zone (RCZ-RAI), and regulated activities zone (RCZ-RAII).

Patnaik said that Odisha has a network of rivers covering about 12,000 kms and about 4.5 to 5 km on both sides of the rivers and floodplains are proposed to be covered under the RCZ.

“Therefore, approximately 108,000 sq km out of the state’s total area of 156,000 sq km will be affected by the proposed notification. Such notification will prevent progress of developmental activities in the state,” said Patnaik.

In a federal structure, responsibilities and powers of the centre and the state in the Union List and State List have been defined while water resources comes under the state subject, he added.

“This notification of the central government will limit and restrict the powers of the state and will create confusion since any of the aforesaid activities come under the purview of state subjects,” said the chief minister in his letter.

“In fitness of things, these activities which are part of the State List should not be included in a notification under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.”

“On the other hand, it is suggested that in order to address the flood problems in the country, a set of guidelines may be issued by the government of India, if required, which could be considered for adoption by the respective state governments based on their local requirements,” the chief minister said.

He urged the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to have a detailed discussion with all the states covering all aspects of the proposed notification.

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