Ban construction on wetlands in Maharashtra, HC tells govt

The Bombay High Court Monday asked the government to ban construction on all wetlands in Maharashtra which figure in the map prepared by the Central government.

Mumbai: In an order that would bring cheer to environmentalists and bird-lovers, the Bombay High Court Monday asked the government to ban construction on all wetlands in Maharashtra which figure in the map prepared by the Central government.

The division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade directed the Urban Development Department`s secretary to issue a necessary circular and ensure that civic bodies stop ongoing construction on wetlands.

The court also directed the Forests and Environment Department to inform whether the state government would accept the wetland atlas map of the Centre, or if would prepare its own map.

In the latter case, the state should come up with its map within a certain timeframe, the judges said, adjourning the hearing to October 29.

Director of NGO Vanashakti Stalin D has filed a PIL demanding that state accept the map prepared by the Centre, set up Wetlands Authority and stop reclamation of wetlands.

The PIL says that coastal wetlands in Mumbai, Thane, Vasai, Navi Mumbai and Uran attract migratory birds in large numbers and construction on such lands would drive them away and damage the ecology of the area.

The wetlands are protected under Coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules. Indian Scientific Research Organisation (ISRO) has carried out a mapping of wetlands across the country, but this map has not been recognised by Maharashtra government, nor has it prepared its own map, the petition says.

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