Monday, Feb 26, 2018 | Last Update : 03:03 AM IST

Finally, Maharashtra gets its own wetland authority

THE ASIAN AGE. | SONALI TELANG
Published : Feb 15, 2018, 2:27 am IST
Updated : Feb 15, 2018, 1:33 pm IST

The state only had a wetland redressal committee until now.

Wetlands are ecologically important as they stabilise the coastline and control erosion.
 Wetlands are ecologically important as they stabilise the coastline and control erosion.

Mumbai: The state government has finally formed the State Wetland Authority as per the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. The 21-member authority will look into conservation and restoration of wetlands. The Bombay high court had earlier rapped the state for not forming any wetland authority as per the wetland rules formed by the union government in 2010. The state only had a wetland redressal committee until now.

Wetlands are ecologically important as they stabilise the coastline, control erosion, and provide a habitat conducive for plant and animal species; and they prevent floods and filter groundwater. However, due to a number of development activities across the state, these areas are now under threat. The central government in 2010 laid down rules and regulations under the Wetland Rules, 2010, to protect the country's wetlands, as per which it directed state governments to form a state wetland authority. The Maharashtra wetland authority is constituted by officials from the state environment ministry, forest department, fisheries department, state pollution control board and independent experts
and will be helmed by the state environment minister.

Abhay Pimparkar, deputy secretary, environment ministry, Maharashtra, and a member of the wetland authority, said, "The authority has 21 members out of which three have been appointed as independent experts. We have also formed separate technical and redressal committees. The redressal committee will look into grievances and will escalate them to the authority if necessary”

App for wetlands

The state government has introduced a mobile application to monitor the wetlands across the state. As per the Maharashtra Wetland Atlas 2017 prepared by the Space Application Centre in Ahmedabad, 32,000 wetlands have been estimated in Maharashtra, including a few in Mumbai. The app will be provided to the forest officials to create a database on the Wetlands and for a continuous scrutiny over the destruction and encroachment cases on the wetlands that have been already recorded.

Tags: bombay high court, wetlands