HC seeks report on wetlands including Ramsar sites

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Sept 12: The High Court has sought a report on status and present position of wetlands included in Ramsar sites from the Government and also directed the Union Ministry of Environment to submit the Action Taken Report (ATR) on the issue.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Puneet Gupta has sought the report from both Union as well as J&K Governments after the court was informed that six wetland sites in J&K and Ladakh UTs were declared as Ramsar sites under Ramsar Conservation on wetlands which now have the international importance.
These wetlands include Hokersar Wetland, Sharbugh Wetland, Haigam Wetland and Wular lake in Kashmir, Tso Moriri and Tso Kar wetland in Ladakh and Surinsar-Mansar Lakes, Jammu.
“In order to focus first on the wetlands of the Ramsar sites, we require the Government of Union Territory to come clean with regard to their status and to file a complete report regarding all these sites within six weeks,” the DB directed.
Court also directed the counsel representing the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change may also submit an action taken report in connection with these wetlands. The PIL on protection and preservation of wetlands is a suo moto cognizance on the instructions of Supreme Court about wetlands.
The Central Government has identified 2 lakh wetlands in the country and Supreme Court on the concern of wetlands under “Ramsar Conservation Sites” directed all the States & UTs for new wetland rules and expressed the urgency for the management of wetlands.
As per the ‘Atlas Ecology and Remote Sensing’ of the State, there are 1230 wetlands identified in the State under ‘Ramsar Conservation Sites’ and under Rule 5 of the concerned rules, an authority has to be in place for management of wetlands.
The Commissioner/ Secretary Forest was under directions to complete the demarcation of wetlands and Deputy Commissioners of Ganderbal, Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam and Pulwama districts were already under court direction to cooperate with the Commissioner/Secretary Forest for carrying out the exercise of demarcation of these wetlands.
The Court has made it clear that the importance of preservation of Wetlands and Water Bodies cannot be sufficiently emphasized as well as the need to set up a regulatory mechanism for all wetlands so as to maintain their ecological character and ultimately support their integrated management in the three regions of the State.
“It is evident that public interest demands that not only the Wetlands covered under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, but also the Wetlands which have been identified by the State Government and are an essential part of the highly protective ecosystem services and biodiversity needs protection and inclusion in the full range of wetland biodiversity and ecosystem services in development planning and decision making sectors”, the Court recorded.