Concerned over the shrinkage of wetlands across the country, the National Green Tribunal today asked all states to implead themselves as parties and sought the response of the Environment Ministry on a plea seeking their identification and protection.
The matter was presented before a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar by senior advocate Shanti Bhushan on a plea which said that restoration and conservation of wetlands becomes impossible once they are destroyed, as these are neither identified nor categorised.
“We direct all states to be impleaded as parties in the matter. Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to reply within three weeks from today. Put up for December 22,” the bench said.
Bhushan, who was appearing for petitioner Anand Arya, sought direction to the Centre and states not to permit any activity in and around the wetlands, as inventoried by ISRO in 2007 and 2011, till these are notified by the Centre.
He contended that the states, in coordination with the central government, have not yet performed their statutory duty of identifying all wetlands in their respective jurisdiction as per the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010 within six months.
“Centre must become over-active and tell states how to go about it,” he said.
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 was increasing the risk of losing the wetlands.
The Centre is neither notifying wetlands in the country, nor coordinating actions of state governments and other authorities under the Act and the 2010 Rules to identify wetlands within the states, it said.
The plea further said it is “abundantly clear” that there is no protection of available to a large number of wetlands across the country since these are not listed and hence “losing the precious wetlands in the country is very high”.
“Wetlands and water bodies are of great importance. The Wetlands, which 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 said.
( Source – PTI )