Wetlands get protection

The West Bengal Assembly has adopted legislation barring the filling up of wetlands that exceed 0.035 ha in the state's notified urban areas. The ecological importance of these wetlands artificialIy embanked areas and naturally or artificially depressed lands holding water -has long been recognised. Large Klranmoy Nondo: Befriending tracts of these wet-fishrfolk. lands have been filled up in recent years by real estate promoters with utter disregard for their ecological use. The West Bengal Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1993, states encroachment by builders and developers has assumed alarming proportions. State fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda emphasised the legislation was intended mainly to help fisherfolk by assisting them to set up fishing cooperatives in the wetlands. These wetlands are being filled now and they are to be confiscated, restored to their original state and then handed over to cooperatives, who will pay a reasonable rent to the state.