Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today suggested that the Maharashtra Government should constitute a permanent mechanism to monitor wetlands in the state so that encroachments do not take place in such areas.
The suggestion was made by a bench headed by Justice V M Kanade on a PIL filed by Vanashakti, an NGO, which alleged destruction of wetlands in suburban Malwani, Dahisar, Vasai, Esselworld, Oshiwara, Kanakia Nagar in Mira Road, Kasheli in Thane and Palm Beach Road area in Navi Mumbai.
"It is a shocking state of affairs to note that no action is being taken against those who are reclaiming land in wetland areas," said the bench.
Government pleader G W Mattos said that the state had issued a circular warning that construction or reclamation in the areas of wetlands was strictly prohibited and warned that action would be taken against the guilty.
However, counsel for Vanashakti, Gayatri Singh, said the circular was not enough to check encroachments in wetland areas. She said there should be a permanent mechanism to monitor such areas in which wetlands fall, to which the court agreed and suggested the state to consider this aspect.
The government had told the court earlier that an authority for monitoring wetlands in the state would be constituted soon.
However, Singh today argued that the state had not come out with a time-bound programme as to when such an authority would be formed.
The government pleader said Mumbai suburban areas such as Navghar, Vasai and those near Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, where wetlands were located, had been surveyed. Six other sites, where wetlands were found, are yet to be surveyed.
The court posted the hearing after four weeks.
Earlier, the state had informed the court that an expert committee had confirmed in a report that wetlands in neighbouring Vasai were being destroyed due to construction.
"Systematic attempt is being made to fill up the wetlands with debris. Several new apartment complexes have come up in the area, which indicate a serious threat to wetlands from real estate developers," the report said.
The NGO alleged that police did not heed the complaints in this regard. The government argued that police were not empowered to take action in these matters but State Pollution Control Board was.