The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minister's stab at landfill
- Bypass estate first blood in Operation Wetlands

The state fisheries minister has head-butted a housing project off the EM Bypass for allegedly filling up a waterbody.

'An FIR was lodged by our department against the NRI Bengal Complex, in East Jadavpur police station area, on Thursday evening. The promoters of the project, in Madurdaha mouza, had filled up a waterbody measuring over 10 acres,' said fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda.

Pradeep Sureka, one of the developers in the consortium, told Metro: 'It's a joint-sector project, on vested land handed over to us by the government eight years ago. This shows a lack of coordination between two government departments. We will furnish our documents on Monday.'

With this FIR, Nanda signalled the launch of Operation Wetlands and pledged to crack down on all offenders and force them to recreate every filled-up waterbody.

'We have procured two machines for dredging and digging. We will employ these machines for digging and recreating the waterbody and the offender will have to bear the expenses,' declared the minister.

The Inland Fisheries Act stipulates the recreation of a waterbody if there is an attempt to change its character.

Citing another case on James Long Sarani, where a construction was coming up on a 42-cottah plot, Nanda said his department had asked the promoters to create a new waterbody of similar proportions. 'We've issued a notice and asked the promoters to create a waterbody within 30 days.'

In the wake of the real estate boom, the state green monitor alleged that 'several waterbodies across the city' have been filled up.

'In the past two years, we've come across more than 15 cases in Calcutta involving filling-up of large waterbodies, ranging from 10 cottahs to two bighas. We've initiated action against these, but these offences are now rampant,' claimed Biswajit Mukherjee, special law officer, West Bengal Pollution Control Board.

The fisheries department has lodged over 300 FIRs for this offence over the years, but police have failed to file a chargesheet, alleged Nanda.

'The offence is punishable under Sec. 17(A) of the Inland Fisheries Act with two years' imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh,' said the minister.

Nanda's crusade comes a day after Left Front chairman Biman Bose sounded a warning to promoters, declaring that landfill of wetlands was a serious offence. On Thursday, Bose had appealed to all citizens to blow the whistle on such offences.

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