Activists and environmentalists have raised concerns over the proposed rules on wetland conservation that exclude the restrictions on activities within wetlands and penalizing provisions for the violation of wetland rules. The concerns were raised during a discussion organized in Jodhpur on Monday by three NGOs -- EIA Resource and Response Centre, Libra India and Life -- on Draft Wetland Rules 2016 issued recently by the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), seeking suggestions and comments.
The proposed rules prohibit only reclamation of wetlands and conversion for non-wetland uses, diversion or impediment to natural water inflows and outflows of the wetland and any activity having or likely to have an adverse impact on the ecological character of the wetlands.
The wetlands rules were notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for conservation and management of wetlands in 2010, but it was observed that the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority failed to comply with and implement the rules in letter and spirit.
“Earlier rules had clearly prohibited activities like reclamation of wetlands, setting up of new industries and expansion of existing industries, solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated waste and effluents from industries, any construction of permanent nature and any other activities likely to have an adverse impact on the ecosystem of wetlands,” said advocate Sanjeet Purohit, adding that new draft rules have diluted the restrictions.
While expressing his concerns over this issue, scientist Dr Sanjeev Kumar laid emphasis upon the necessity of penal provisions in case of any violations of rule, which is missing in draft rules.
‘Although Rajasthan is a desert state, but according to wetland atlas a total 774 wetlands are mapped with 3,67,695 hectare area’, said Dr. Hemsingh Gehlot, associate professor of Jai Narayan Vyas University, Jodhpur, and advised that the rules should be implemented at the district level also so that the wetlands can be effectively notified and protected.
During the course of discussion, advocate Juhi Mathur informed that no wetlands have been identified in India in the past five years. ‘There is great quantum of deficit and compliance on part of the government to implement the provisions of the earlier rules also’, advocate Shambhuvi Bhansali said.