Jhabbu Lal of Samastpur, Rae Bareli district had a small piece of land

A scientific team from Ministry of Forest and Environment will conduct a study tour of the lakes of Sikkim later this month to prepare wetland conservation protection action plan. Scientists from Ministry of Forest and Environment are scheduled to arrive in Sikkim on May 24 to visit the lakes and for preparation of wetland conservation action plan, said C.Lachungpa, Conservator of Forests, State Forest Department.

Nearly 300 residents of over 10 societies near Charkop lake, a 50-year-old water body, fear that construction on the lake is going to adversely affect them in the coming monsoon. In February, the residents had raised a red flag over partial filling of the six-acre lake for a housing project. Consequently, on February 20, the Mumbai Suburban Collector's office issued a notice to stop the land-filling till further notice and ordered a high-level inquiry into the issue.

Today was Earth Day, but a vital part of Assam's natural landscape had nothing to rejoice amid the customary functions and meets. Missing from the Earth Day celebrations was any information about the status of the region's wetlands, even though they sustain large communities and play a major role in environmental security.

The Department of Botanical and Environmental Sciences of Guru Nanak Dev University organised a workshop on

In one of the most significant wetlands regulations in 2 decades, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has spelled out what developers must do to mitigate damage from their construction projects.

The very existence of Deepor Beel is under threat as some anti-social groups are busy encroaching its areas and illegally cutting the soil of the wetland.

Early Birds, a city based organization for conservation of nature had recently organized a series of meetings at schools near Deepor beel, the lone Ramsar site in the State.

A parliamentary panel has asked the Environment and Forests Ministry to sensitise villagers to man-animal co-existence and also involve them in wildlife conservation.

The state government has imposed curbs on "sale, purchase and change of character' of plots within the East Calcutta Wetlands, off EM Bypass, to prevent unauthorised construction and other activities that are harmful for its ecology. The order specifying the curbs was issued on February 29 by M.L.Meena, the principal secretary in the state environment department and member-secretary of East Calcutta Wetlands Authority. It came into force immediately. The wetlands, spread across 12,500 hectares, have been declared a "no-development' zone by Calcutta High Court. But there are often complaints of violation of the ruling. "A large number of unauthorised structures are coming up in the wetlands, violating environment norms and creating ecological imbalance. There are also reports of other unlawful commercial activities in the zone,' said Meena, explaining the rationale for issuing the order. The order bars "transfer (of) land to any person or persons in any manner through deed of sale or providing lease or tenancy right' without "prior clearance of East Calcutta Wetlands Authority'. The authority was set up under the chairmanship of the chief secretary in 2006 to preserve the character of the wetlands. The land and land reforms department has been asked "not to issue any certificate for the change of the character of land', while those dealing with registration have been been directed "not to allow registration of any land, house or pond' without the authority's consent. Similarly, the municipal or panchayat bodies have been debarred from sanctioning plans of buildings to be used for commercial purposes, keeping the authority in the dark. "If anyone wants to transfer plots within the East Calcutta Wetlands, he/she has to approach the member-secretary of the authority, who will decide on the applications within two months,' said Biswajit Mukherjee, a senior law officer in the state environment department. Environmentalists, however, are sceptical about implementation of the order. "The idea is good but will it work?' wondered Dhrubojyoti Ghosh, who was the first to document the ecological role of the wetlands. "There are numerous instances of landfill in the Ramsar zone but the violators have all gone scot-free, despite the high court ruling. Any day, you can find middlemen involved in land transfer in the wetlands,' he pointed out. "A number of big housing estates and a college have come up within the wetlands. And there are quite a few smaller violations. But the government has done nothing to honour the judicial verdict,' said another green activist.

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