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What’s being done to protect wetlands: HC asks Centre, states

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Delay in identification and notification, encroachment are taking a toll on fragile wetlands.

: Concerned over the shrinkage of wetlands in India, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the Centre and the states to make their stand clear on how they will identify wetlands and ensure their protection

The Tribunal was hearing a plea filed by environmental activist Anand Arya who had filed a petition against the Centre. But, considering the gravity of the matter, the NGT asked all states to implead themselves as parties to the case and file their responses. “We direct all states to be impleaded as parties and for the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to reply within three weeks. Put up for December 22,” the Tribunal said.

“The Wetlands are a vital part of the hydrological cycle, are highly productive, support exceptionally large biological diversity, and provide a wide range of ecosystem services such as waste assimilation, water purification, flood mitigation, erosion control, ground water recharge, micro climate regulation, aesthetic enhancement of the landscape while simultaneously supporting many significant recreational, social and cultural activities besides being a part of the cultural heritage and hence require immediate protection,” the plea stated.

Mr. Arya said that while the government has failed to notify wetlands, the survey of India maps show wetlands in various states. Appearing for Mr Arya, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan said restoration and conservation of wetlands becomes impossible once they are destroyed.

Mr. Bhushan urged that states be directed not to permit any activity in and around the wetlands, as inventoried by space agency ISRO in 2007 and 2011, till these are notified by the Centre.

He contended that the states, in coordination with the Centre, have not yet performed their statutory duty of identifying all wetlands in their respective jurisdiction as per the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010.

“Centre must become over-active and tell states how to go about it,” Mr. Bhushan said. The Tribunal is also hearing separate cases pertaining to encroachment of wetlands in and around Delhi.

The petition alleged that the Centre had violated sections of the Environment Protection Act 1986 by not taking necessary steps to protect and save the environment, which is putting the wetlands at risk.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 2:39:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/whats-being-done-to-protect-wetlands-delhi-hc-asks-centre-states/article7905283.ece

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