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National Green Tribunal asks UP govt to identify all wetlands

The Times of India, Noida, 10th January, 2014

Sharmila Bhowmick

NOIDA: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the UP government to "expeditiously" notify all wetlands in the state, and ordered the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) to maintain "status quo" till then on any project planned for Dankaur and Parsaul.

"We hope and trust that UP undertakes an exercise of identifying the wetlands in the state expeditiously, particularly in the light of ISRO imagery," a bench of Justice UD Salvi said on Thursday.

As Dankaur and Parsaul are areas that fall under sectors 15 and 16 of YEIDA, and are earmarked for residential plots, NGT's order will not really hamper development as no project is currently underway there. When contacted, YEIDA CEO P C Gupta said he would comment on the issue later.

The green court's order has come in the wake of a petition by an environmental activist, Anand Arya, seeking the tribunal's intervention in the identification and protection of all wetlands in UP as per The Wetlands (Conservation and Management ) Rules, 2010.

According to the petition, the UP government has failed to identify and enlist all wetlands with the Union environment and forests ministry, despite at least four reminders since the rules were passed under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, which make it mandatory for all states to notify all wetlands.

Arya had filed the petition after two wetlands of 100 hectare each in the Dankaur and Parsaul areas of Gautam Budh Nagar were discovered. In his plea, he told the NGT that these two areas host close to 130 varieties of bird species and is also a major habitat for sarus cranes, the state bird of UP.

"The wetlands are of over 100 hectare each and are located in the Dankaur area of GB Nagar. Wetlands are located under water and have remained so through many years as can be seen on the Google Earth images

, as also on the maps of the area by ISRO," the plea said.

A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, and has a distinct ecosytem.