Its earlier order not yet complied with, the Bombay High Court Monday asked the state’s urban development department (UDD) to issue a circular within a week to all municipal corporations and zilla parishads instructing them to disallow construction on wetlands. The court had on October 14 this year directed the UDD to issue the circular.
A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M S Sonak was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a group of NGOs on violations of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notifications and rules on safeguarding the wetlands.
The petitioners had said they were aggrieved by the callous attitude of the authorities concerned in protecting areas consisting of intertidal currents, wetlands
and mangroves, in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Gayatri Singh pointed out that the state government had failed to constitute the state wetland authority. The bench directed the state to file its reply in this regard by December 23.
The bench also asked to be informed, at the next date of hearing, the timeframe within which the principal secretaries of both the environment and forest departments would adopt the Centre’s Wetland Atlas or whether they would like to prepare their own maps.
The bench also directed the chief conservator of forests (mangrove cell) to conduct an inspection of all sites within the MMR listed in the petition and submit a report to the court.
The petition alleged that the wetlands were undergoing severe environmental and ecological damage due to activities of illegal reclamation and construction.
“The respondents have failed in their statutory duty to protect wetlands including mangroves, despite directions given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to prepare both wetland and CRZ maps in a time-bound manner and take action against those persons violating provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act,1986,” stated the petition.