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| Last Updated:: 21/07/2017

Supreme Court expresses concern over disappearance of wetlands in India












The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern over "vanishing" of wetlands in the country and asked the Centre to explain about the "huge amount" of money spent on various works related to preservation of the water bodies. 




A wetland is a land area that has water, either permanently or seasonally, and it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. The apex court observed that a number of wetlands and lakes have disappeared and according to the reports, it was one of the reasons for the floods in Chennai in 2015. 




"So many of these wetlands have vanished. In 2015, there were floods in Chennai. The reports said that there was flooding as wetlands have vanished. In areas like Bhopal and Bengaluru, lakes have disappeared," a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. 




The government told the apex court that it has prepared a fresh affidavit giving details about identification and inventorizing over two lakh wetlands in the country. 




However, advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for petitioner M K Balakrishnan, said that the Centre has not yet complied with the earlier order passed by the apex court and it has not explained where the money has been spent. 




"There are two-three things. Huge amounts have been spent on it. We do not know where the money has been spent," the bench told the counsel representing the Centre and asked as to "what steps have you taken on it?" 




The top court had earlier expressed its concern over a huge expenditure of Rs 945.95 crore on various works related to wetlands and had said that the activities shown were extremely general in nature. 




During Thursday's hearing, the government counsel assured the bench that the Centre would take all steps to ensure that directions given by it were complied with. The bench referred to a recent report and asked the Centre whether it was planning to denotify wetlands.