The state urban development department has directed civic authorities not to carry out any reclamation or construction on wetlands across the Maharashtra.
“No municipal corporation, municipal council, nagar panchayat, zilla parishad or planning authority shall permit reclamation of land and any kind of construction in respect of the areas, which has been identified as Wetland Areas in the Wetland Atlas prepared by the central government, without the permission of the Hon’ble High Court, Bombay,” stated a circular dated December 18.
In October, the high court asked the government to ban reclamation or construction on wetlands across the state based on the map prepared by the central government.
The court also directed the environment and forest department to decide whether the state will adopt the Wetland Atlas prepared by the centre or prepare their own atlas under the Wetland Rules 2010.
Non-government organisation Vanashakti has filed a public interest litigation stating that the Wetland Rules 2010 was not being implemented in Maharashtra. The PIL stated that the wetland atlas prepared by the Indian Scientific Research Organisation is not recognised by the Maharashtra government.
Wetlands not only support huge bird populations, but also serve as the vital source of drinking water and ground water recharge. Water pollution, dumping of waste and debris, reclamation and poaching are some of the major threats to coastal wetlands in Mumbai, Thane, Vasai, Navi Mumbai and Uran.