Show cause notice to undersecretary for giving incorrect data on wetlands

The Bombay High Court  

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday issued a show cause notice to Joy Thakur, an undersecretary in the State Environment Department, asking him why contempt proceedings shouldn’t be initiated against him for putting forth incorrect information about wetlands in Maharashtra.

A Division Bench of Justices S.J. Kathawalla and M.N. Jadhav was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Vanashakti Public Trust. The PIL claimed that no action was taken against builders who indiscriminately reclaimed lands and dumped debris on wetlands and mangroves, which violated the rules of the Environment Protection Act.

Mr. Thakur had filed an affidavit in which he had stated that there were 803 wetlands in the three districts of Nagpur, Nandurbar and Parbhani while the district collectors had said that there were no wetlands in their jurisdiction.

Based on the affidavit, the HC had summoned the collectors. While appearing before the Bench last week, the three collectors said that there were no wetlands in the districts. Following this, the HC asked Mr. Thakur for an explanation on his false statement.

On Tuesday, Mr. Thakur filed another affidavit which stated that the numbers depicted in the early affidavit were only of the number of sites visited, and not the number of wetlands.

The court found the explanation unacceptable and asked the government pleader, P.P. Kakade, to check if Mr. Thakur was willing to pay a fine of ₹1 lakh for wasting the court’s time and also of the three responsible officers.

Mr. Thakur’s earlier affidavit had said that the wetland atlas published by the space application centre in January 2010 showed 44,714 wetlands in Maharashtra. However, after the change in definition of a wetland, the number had come down to 15,865. The Bench had earlier directed the State against any reclamation or construction on areas identified as wetland.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 9:01:06 PM |

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