July 26, 2016 2:08:43 am
The Bombay High Court on Monday while emphasising that the state must understand the need to protect wetlands directed it to constitute a committee headed by divisional commissioner of the Konkan region and to ensure restoration of wetlands wherever damaged.
The committee will also set up a grievance redressal mechanism for dealing with complaints relating to destruction of wetlands.
The court has ordered that the committee should comprise senior revenue officers, divisional commissioner Konkan region, senior police officers and experts besides other planning authorities and a representative of the petitioner.
The government has been granted six weeks to ensure that the committee and the redressal grievance mechanism are operational.
A division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice A A Sayyed were hearing a public interest litigation by NGO Vanshakti for saving wetlands and for setting up of a wetlands authority to monitor violations.
The state government had on December 18, 2013, following the HC’s order, issued a government resolution directing civic bodies to enforce a ban on reclamation or constructions shown on areas earmarked in the Centre’s wetland atlas.
The committee has been given responsibility for ensuring compliance of the court’s order.
“The committee shall ensure that a grievance redressal mechanism is set up to receive complaints relating to breach of court orders. These complaints shall be received by email, WhatsApp and telephone. The divisional commissioner of Konkan region shall ensure that either a separate website is made for receiving complaints or the present website is used for this purpose,” said Justice A S Oka, adding complaints should be acted upon within three weeks.
Appearing for Vanshakti, senior counsel Gayatri Singh pointed to major violations that had taken place across the city, adding it is not possible for them to bring all these violations to the notice of the court and officers.
“Major violations have taken place in western suburbs and Thane,” said the court.
The court said it was not necessary for the complainant to disclose his name.
“The action taken will be updates on the website which shall also have the option of uploading photographs,” added the court.
It added that the state shall ensure that a police officer is attached to each taluka level to assist the revenue officer and tehsildar in case of violation.
The matter has been kept for directions on September 30 and the state asked to file a detailed affidavit in this matter before September 27.
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