A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the Wetland Authority constituted under Rule 5 (2) of the Wetlands (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2017 for the NCT Delhi must look into the matter.
“If any steps are required to be taken for making the Wetland Authority fully functional, such steps may be taken by the Delhi chief secretary. Even if it is found that the area in question is not technically a wetland, the lake is required to be preserved as a water body.
“Wetlands Authority may co-opt DDA as a member of the Wetland Authority under Rule 5 (3) of the rules so that the effective joint decision can be taken to resolve the dispute whether the area falls within the jurisdiction of DDA or Delhi government,” the bench said.
The tribunal also directed the Central Pollution Control Board to ascertain whether the National Wetlands Authority is functioning at the central level and Wetland Authorities at all the states or Union Territories.
“If not, their functioning be required to be operational within one month. Such authorities may identify wetland and water bodies and take further steps for their protection. A status report in the matter be furnished before the next date,” the bench, also comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member Nagin Nanda, said.
The NGT also said a copy of the decision taken may be furnished to a committee headed by former high court judge Justice S P Garg, who may consider the matter in the course of deliberations.
The tribunal also rapped the Delhi Development Authority over its submission that the Tikri Khurd Lake did not exist in the records and said,” We may only comment that stand of the DDA does not show commitment for conserving water body and merely focusses on technicalities and shifting responsibility which attitude is not consistent with Articles 48A and 51-A (g) of the Constitution, expected from a public body.”
“Senior Counsel for the DDA travelled an extra mile during arguments to emphasise that responsibility is not of DDA, but of NCT, Delhi or the Wetland Authority. Certainly, DDA is not irrelevant and is expected to make a positive contribution on such issues without standing on technicalities,” it said.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Delhi resident R K Gupta seeking restoration of the Tikri Khurd Lake by removal of encroachments.