The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Urban Development Secretary to issue a circular to all civic bodies in the state, declaring a ban on any construction activity on wetlands which figure in the central government’s map.
A division bench of justices VM Kanade and SC Gupte gave the direction while hearing a PIL seeking protection of wetlands in Maharashtra.
Wetlands are protected under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules. The Indian Scientific Research Organisation (ISRO) has done an all-India mapping of wetlands, the PIL states.
However, this map has not been accepted by the state. The judges have directed the environment and forests ministry to inform the high court whether the state will accept the wetland map prepared by the Centre or come out with its own map.
The PIL, filed by Stalin D, director of NGO Vanashakti, also seeks the setting up of a wetlands authority and urges that reclamation work on all wetlands appearing in the Centre’s atlas be stopped.
The PIL adds that coastal wetlands in Mumbai, Thane, Vasai, Navi Mumbai and Uran attract migratory birds and any construction on such lands would drive them away and cause ecological damage. The HC has kept the PIL for hearing on October 29.
What is a wetland?
A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such
that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. They consist primarily of hydric soil, which supports the growth of aquatic plants