The eastern zone bench of National Green Tribunal has directed the East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority “to demarcate the boundary of the wetlands (with) pillars” within six months in an effort to stop encroachment within the 1,25,000 hectre of internationally recognised area.
Environmentalists have been demanding for a long time a well-demarcated boundary of the wetlands as innumerable violations, particularly constructions and encroachments, have allegedly been taking place; particularly on the fringe area of the wetland, in absence of a clear-cut demarcation of its boundary.
While any change of land use and construction is barred within the East Calcutta wetlands area; the same is allowed outside the wetlands boundary.
According to the authorities, survey shows the majority of the violations happen on the fringe area, including the places adjacent to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, Bidhannagar and Sonarpur areas — the urbanisation hotspots in the state.
The wetland, a Ramsar site, is known as the kidney of the city for its ability to suck polluted water and then treat it automatically, which is used in agriculture and fishery.
“We … direct East Kolkata Wetlands Authority … to demarcate the entire area of the East Kolkata wetlands after proper survey and thereafter proceed to demarcate the boundary of the said wetlands on the ground level by setting up pillars,” stated the order issued on last Wednesday by the two-member bench consisting of Justice B. Amit Sthalekar and expert member Saibal Dasgupta. The order was in response to a petition filed by environmentalist Subhas Datta.
The bench also said “EKWA may take the help of latest satellite map and carry out intensive ground truthing for boundary demarcation of East Kolkata wetlands” and asked it “to complete this exercise and file status report … within six months”.
The order was passed after Datta submitted that the entire area of the wetlands was not yet demarcated with pillars.
The tribunal has also asked the counsel for the Union ministry of environment; forest and climate change to submit within four weeks the status of its financial contribution to execute the integrated management plan of East Calcutta wetlands and the final approval of the plan as well so that the same can be put in operation at the earliest.
The bench, based on Datta’s submission, asked the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation to expedite the biomining of old solid waste from the Mollar bheri falling within the wetland area and also complete the fencing around the water body within two months.
The bench has also asked the Calcutta Municipal Corporation to file a fresh affidavit within four weeks bringing on record the current status of disposal of old waste in Dhapa.
Its latest affidavit has not stated clearly that how much of old dumped garbage, called legacy waste, has been removed so far, the bench stated.
It has also asked for the status reports about the actions taken regarding the number of alleged water body fills and illegal constructions within the area.