Kolkata, Sep 17 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal on Thursday rejected the plea of state agency Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) for granting permission for Chhat puja in Rabindra Sarobar this year with restrictions, and upheld its previous order banning any such ritual there to save its ecosystem.
KMDA, the custodian of the 73-acre lake in the southern part of the city, said that it may move the Supreme Court against the order.
The agency, which functions under the state Urban Development Department, recently moved the NGT, East Zone, seeking permission to allow Chhath Puja rituals in the waterbody that has been plagued by pollution, in deference to religious sentiment of people.
KMDA also submitted before the court that there could be law and order problem as thousands of devotees broke open locked gates of the sprawling lake area last year and offered puja violating the NGT orders.
A bench of Justice S P Wangdi and two expert members rejected the petition and directed KMDA to ensure that its earlier order of not allowing anyone on the premises of the lake on the Chhat Puja days in November is strictly enforced this time.
A senior KMDA official said, 'We respect the court's decision and will take the next course of action after considering all aspects.' 'We are thinking about moving the Supreme Court for reviewing the NGT order,' Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim told reporters.
Environmentalists Somendra Nath Ghosh and Sumita Bandyopadhyay hailed the order of the NGT and wondered what had prompted KMDA to make such a plea again.
Subhas Dutta, another environmentalist, said the NGT has pointed out that KMDA cannot evade its responsibility to implement a court order by invoking religious sentiments and law and order issue.
In 2016, the NGT had allowed Chhath puja to be performed in the lake for that year only under certain regulations.
In the next year, the court ordered that no Chhat Puja rituals would be allowed anymore to prevent pollution of the lake and the surrounding manicured gardens and grounds, and asked KMDA to enforce the ruling.
However, in 2018 and 2019, thousands of devotees forcefully entered the lake area and performed Chhat Puja rituals.
On the reason behind moving the NGT again, KMDA CEO Antara Acharya had said, 'There is religious sentiment involved and many women and children gather at the spot. It is difficult to prevent them from entering the lake compound.' Rabindra Sarobar is part of National Lake Conservation Plan of Government of India. The huge lake and the surrounding grounds are used for several sporting activities from rowing, swimming competitions to cricket, football and other activities. PTI SUS NN NN