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East

Kolkata Wetland:
Development of Planning Needs
[A need assessment study of East Kolkata Wetland ecosystem]

A. Project Leaders:

1. Dr. Radha Tamal Goswami | Director, BIT. Kolkata

2. Abhijit Kundu | Adjunct Professor, BIT. Kolkata

B. Project Chief Advisor:

Mr. Asim Barman (IAS, Retd)

C. Project Consultant:

Mr. Asesh Sengupta

D. Project Assistant:

Mrs. Sreemoyee Mookerjee (Debnath)
E. Photography:
Subhadeep Debnath (Ananda)

BIRLA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY


Mesra-835215, Ranchi, India.
KOLKATA CAMPUS, Southend Conclave
1582, Rajdanga Main Road, 4th Floor, Kolkata - 700107.

Introducing the need assessment study of


East Kolkata Wetland ecosystem Mr. Asesh Sengupta, Project Consultant
There are enough documentation on East Kolkata Wetland. So what we are
approaching here, in this study, is not just another documentation. Rather we are
finding the gaps, through this need assessment study. And these finding are
meant to help policymakers. Prof. Abhijit Kundu made the point very clear in the
beginning itself; and that made the study particularly interesting. Prof. Goswami,
Director, BIT Kolkata, made it very specific, and explained the interface where a
technology and management institute can join hand with Social Science. Mr.
Asim Barman (IAS, retd.) who was instrumental behind the East Kolkata Wetland
Acts (as the then Principal Secretary, Dept of Environment, Government of West
Bengal) always made it sure that the study serves a bigger policy purpose.

It took four months to understand that, there are no structured institutional data
available on East Kolkata Wetland. As these institutional interactions used to
take some time, around fifth month of the study, Prof. Kundu instructed the team
to develop a way to collect primary data. Thanks to Mr. Asim Barman that he
referred the social research organization, Kolkata Commons Centre for
Interdisciplinary Research and Analytics a road map was developed to reach
all seven Panchayats spread over three blocks, within the East Kolkata Wetland.
With the help of Kolkata Commons CIRA meetings were conducted explaining
the purpose of study. And then involving the Panchayats habitation level survey
of Panchayats was done. This was first of its kind study. Due to the limited
scopes, two panchayats of Sonarpur block was selected to depict this habitation
level survey.

Contents
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Annexure - 1 Keynote Address by Asim Barman, IAS (Retd.) National Conference On Wetlands 42
Introduction
The Site
Geology and Climatic Features
Water
Land Use pattern
Flora
Fauna
The Wetlands system and the local community
Existing Conservation measure
Improvement of Agricultural Area
East Kolkata Wetlands: Background and Genesis
A timeline of East Kolkata Wetland
Institutional Initiatives
Previous development initiatives
Production system at EKW
Constrains in EKW system
Need Assessment
Problems regarding the Sewage Canals and the Fish Ponds
Irrigation and Drainage
Other Problems in Sewage-fed Fish Cultivation and Vegetable Cultivation
Problems & Threats
Regional Categorisation Problem census and Defining Management objectives
Substantially Waterbody Area
Improvement of Agricultural Area
Improvement of Productive Farming Area
List of references: Books and Articles

Organized By ICAR, CIFRI & SAFE, March 02, 2014, CIFRI, Barrackpore
Annexure - 2 Calcutta High Court Verdict 1992
Annexure - 3 EKW Act, 2006
Annexure - 4 Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Wetlands (Conservation and

46
71
80

Management) Rules, 2009


Annexure - 5 Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt of India. Draft Regulatory Framework
for Wetlands Conservation for Comments. May 24, 2010
GIS Map - Kheyadah I
GIS Map - Kheyadah II

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INTRODUCTION
The wetlands to the east of Kolkata are well known over the world for their multiple
uses. The resource recovery system, developed by the local people through ages using
waste water from the city, is the largest in the world and unique of its type. In the
process, it treats the waste water and has saved the city of Kolkata from constructing
and maintaining a wastewater treatment plant. It also is the only metropolitan city in
the world where the State Government has introduced development controls to
conserve the water bodies. The wetland is largely human made, comprising intertidal
marshes including salt marshes, salt meadows with significant waste water treatment
areas like sewage farms, settling ponds, oxidation basins. The East Kolkata Wetlands,
provide three basic securities, which are critical for the third world countries food,
sanitation and livelihood. The East Kolkata wetlands system is the vital component of
the friendly water regime that provides ecological security to the mega city of Kolkata.
The East Kolkata Wetlands comprises a large number of water bodies distributed across
the districts of South and North 24 Parganas adjacent to the Eastern part of Kolkata. The
multifunctional wetland ecosystem is of an area of 12,500 hectares and it comprises 254
sewage fed fisheries, agricultural field, solid waste farms and some built up areas in
addition to the wetland. A large part of wetland happens to be the worlds largest
wastewater fed aquaculture system and the goods and services offered by this wetland
include, in addition to fisheries, water treatment, provision of habitat to waterfowl and
a large amount of biodiversity.
In August 2002, 12,500 ha of the East Kolkata Wetland area has been included in the
List maintained under the Ramsar Bureau established under the Article 8 of the
Ramsar Convention, that has given this wetland the recognition of a Wetland of
International Importance.
The Site

The East Kolkata wetlands (22 0 27 N 88 0 27 E) are a series of wetlands & swamps in
the eastern fringe of the city of Kolkata.

Geology and Climatic Features

Climate here is more or less sub-tropical with the annual mean rainfall around 200 cm.
The maximum temperature during summer rises around 390 C. while minimum
temperature during winter is around 100C. The average temperature during most part
of the year is around 300C. During day time with a fall in temperature of 5-60C.at night
(Garg et.al., 1998).
Water

Hydrology of this wetland is particularly different from any other aquatic systems. The
wetland has as such no catchment area of its own, although an estimated amount of
approximately 250 million gallons of sewage per day is being charged into it. So far as
ground water is concerned, there is hardly any good aquifer upto a depth of 400 feet.
Water is present in basically perched aquifers. The total dissolved solid content
sometimes exceeds 1800 ppm. The water table stands at a depth of 8m.with a
downward fluctuation of 1-2m. during summer. (Garg et. al., 1998). In the fishery water
the average pH is 7.5. In the fisheries the BOD remains within the range from 35 to 50
ppm. & COD remains within the range from 55 to 140 ppm. (Saha and Ghosh, 2003).
Land Use pattern

The breakup of the sector wise land use of the EKW area as found from the analysis of
the satellite supported by actual ground survey is given below:
(i)

Substantially Waterbody-oriented Area

5852.14 Hectare

(ii)

Agricultural Area

4718.56 Hectare

(iii)

Productive Farming Area

602.78 Hectare

(iv)

Urban/Rural Settlements

1326.52 Hectare

(91.53 ha Urban + 1234.99 ha Rural)


Total Area

12500.00 Hectare

Flora

There are about 100 plant species which have been recorded in and around the East
Kolkata Wetlands. These include Sagittaria montividensis, Cryptocoryne ciliata,
Cyperus spp., Acrostichum aureum, Ipomoea aquatica, etc.

Fauna

Amongst the rare mammals marsh mongoose and small Indian mongoose, palm civet
and small Indian civet are significant in and around East Kolkata Wetland area. About
20 mammals are reported from this region. Threatened reptiles like, Indian mud turtle
is also reported occasionally from the adjacent locality. Presently, more than 40 bird
species comprising of both local and migratory types are reported to visit these cluster
of wetlands. Among these grebe, coot, darter, shag, cormorant, teals, egrets, jacanas,
snipes, tern, eagle, sand piper, gulls, rails and kingfishers are significant.
The Wetlands system and the local community

What happened was this: Retention of wastewater in the ponds, before the initial
stocking of fish, allowed bacteria to act upon the organic matter in the sewage and
decompose the organic waste. The growth of these beneficial bacteria was supported by
the algae that thrived in these shallow ponds under the ample sunshine. The algae also
provided food for the fish. This ecosystem provides a natural kidney for the city's
organic wastewater. So a double boon was taking place: The organic sewage was being
treated by the natural ecosystem, and was producing rich quantities of fish food on
which the local varieties thrive.
So stable has the system been that in spite of assaults by developers, the area still
supports the world's largest ensemble of wastewater fish ponds, nearly 250 covering
about 3,500 hectares. The area has also witnessed a major wetland conservation effort,
now known all over the world and recognized by United Nations honours. The best
part of this system is that it can be reproduced in poorer parts of the world with ample
sunshine, as my colleagues and I have shown at other sites.
Thus the natural beauty of the wetlands conceals outstanding feats of nature and wise
local programs that form the bedrock of sustainable development.
The urban perception of wastewater management has essentially been that of pollution
control. Conventional mechanical treatment plants serve this purpose, albeit
inadequately. (Such plants are used to enrich dissolved oxygen and reduce cloudiness
but they do not entirely remove pathogens). But there is another view. Farmers in many

of the poorer areas recognize municipal wastewater as a nutrient pool that can be used
in fisheries and agriculture.
Informations from Fishery Co-operative Societies of East Kolkata Wetland reveals that,
this Worlds largest wastewater fed aquaculture system produces about 13,000 tonnes
fish per year and as such provides the livelihood of more or less 60,000 inhabitants of
this area. This has been possible due to development and practice by the fishermen of
this area, since 70 years and unique eco-based sustainable technology for the treatment
of raw sewage of the city flowing through drainage channel in and around these areas.
Existing Conservation measure

The conservation area boundary for the East Kolkata wetlands and waste-recycling
region was mapped in 1985 by the State Planning Board, Government of West Bengal.
This wetland area is protected by order of the Kolkata High Court in 1992, which
prohibits change in land use. High Court directed the State government to take recourse
to statutory cover, if required, to prevent any private alienation of land. Recently, the
Director of land and Land Records, Govt.of West Bengal has issued a fresh order
prohibiting any conversion of land use within the conservation area boundary and
declaring all such conversions, that have taken place since 1992, as void. Filling up of
water bodies in this area is not permissible under West Bengal Town and Country
(Planning and Development) Act, 1979 as well as under the West Bengal Inland
Fisheries Act, 1984 (with amendment in 1993).
It is to be emphasized in this context that ground level coordination control and
management are also impeded because of the existence of a plethora of legislations
originating from different authorities. Following are the major legislations which are
now in operation; for more detail please consult Annexure 3.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended till 1991) and the Forest (Conservation)
Act 1980
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
The West Bengal Inland Fisheries Act (amended in 1993)
The West Bengal Town and Country (Planning & Development Act) 1979
4

Improvement of Agricultural Area


The West Bengal Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1981
National Conservation Strategy

and Policy

Statement

on Environment

and

Development 1992
Water

(Prevention

and

Control

of

Pollution) Act - 1974 (Amended 1988)


East Kolkata Wetlands: Background and
Genesis
East Kolkata Wetlands, the waste-recycling
region of Kolkata has a long history dating
back to the late eighteenth century. Shortly
after the foundation of the city, sewage and
most solid waste were disposed in the
Bidyadhari

River

from

specially

constructed jetty; and some solid waste was


also used as infill. Overall, this system
proved to be unhygienic and it was widely
acknowledged that a better strategy was
needed. A system of burning solid waste,
which was tried later, was not successful. Mr. William Clark, Chief Sanitary Engineer,
then proposed to remove municipal solid waste to the present Salt Lake area, and
during 1864 a low-lying area to the east of the city was acquired for the purpose of
waste disposal. The dumping process started in the year 1868. In 1904, the sub-deputy
collector reported that of 220 ha taken on lease by Bhabanath Sen was converted into
horticulture, and this productive vegetable growing area came to be known as Dhapa.
In 1872 a fish jetty was constructed on Rajas drainage channel and this was closely
followed by the establishment of a flourishing fish market at Pagladanga in 1887. A
navigation channel was constructed to connect the market to the town reservoir. Later,
the land taken for the construction of a Storm Water Flow (SWF) canal caused
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disruption to both the fish producing drainage channel and the market. However,
discharge of sewage carried in the SWF canal resulted in brackish lagoons, less saline,
and freshwater fish which colonized these lagoons. It is also likely that some informal
stocking of fish was undertaken. An account given by Mr. P. Ghosh, former Secretary of
the Fish Producers Association suggests that the earliest attempt at formal aquaculture,
deliberately exploiting wastewater was undertaken by Mr. Bidhu Bhushan Sarkar in
1918. Subsequently, construction of the Dr. B. N. Dey Outfall Scheme increased
accessibility of farmers in the area to wastewater, which in turn encouraged others to
adopt wastewater aquaculture.

From the peak in 1945, approximately 350 fish-growing sites covering 7300 ha managed
wastewater aquaculture and later estimates have put the remaining pond area around
3500 ha. In 1956 the Salt Lake Reclamation Scheme was formulated and acquisition
notices served on nearly half the farms managed for wastewater aquaculture. Between
1962 and 1967, under the direction of the Government, about 1200 ha of ponds were
filled with silt dredged from the Hooghly River. This reclaimed land was used to
develop Salt Lake City, a major residential area to the north east of Kolkata. From 1967
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to 1972, a further 320 ha were reclaimed to extend Salt Lake City. In 1972, there were
4646 ha of fisheries. During the period 1978-1979 the East Calcutta Township and Patuli
Township were developed, converting 670 ha and 240 ha respectively.

Encroachment: Comparing the


LANDSAT TM Satellite data of
92 with IKONOS Satellite data
of 03 it has been identified that
some new settlements have
come up ignoring the historical
Calcutta High Court verdict in
1992, in EKW area. The verdict
of Calcutta High Court by
Hon.

Justice

Mr.

Umesh

Chandra Banerjee, Sept., 1992 .Incidentally, it was contended that from 20000 acres the Calcuttas wetlands
gradually shrank to 10,000 acres out of private initiative only and private initiative are
now much more stronger than before.
.Here, However the question is not as simple as the city losing a portion of its fish
and vegetable supply from its backyards, but it is a question of social and economic cost
benefit involving much larger and intricate issues.
There cant be any matter of doubt that the Calcutta Wetlands presents a unique
ecosystem apart from the materialistic benefit to the society at large.
A timeline of East Kolkata Wetland:
East Kolkata Waste Recycling Region
A Time-Line
Year
1775-1776
1800

Event
Major William Tolly excavated the silted bed of Adiganga.
Central Lake Channel and Beliaghata khal became abandoned.

1803

Lord Wellesley noticed that drainage system of Kolkata is


extremely defective

1821

On behalf of Lottery committee, Lt. Schalch, Engineer of


Irrigation Dept., Bengal government, proposed to construct
masonry sewers.

1829-1833
1830

Excavation of Circular canal.


The Government of India wanted to reclaim the Salt Lake to
expand site.

1833

Construction of the Cossipore Lock.

1840

The Fever Hospital Committee reported that the main cause of


the deterioration of public health was the poor drainage
system.

1853

Mr. William Clarck, Chief Sanitary Engineer, prepared a new


detailed drainage scheme.

1857

Mr. William Clarcks plan of underground drainage system was


accepted.

1864

A portion of the swampy area in the Salt Water Lake Region


was acquired for dumping of garbage.

1865

A Salt Lake Reclamation Company offered to undertake the


reclamation work. But due to financial problems it did not take
place.

1868

The refuse was dumped for the first time.

1872

A fish ghat was established and a channel was cut from Rajas
khal leading to this ghat.

1874

The fish market was started successfully.

1876

The dumping ground had been leased out to Nandalal Das for
three years.

1876

The fishery had been leased out to Durga Charan Kundu for
four years.

30th April 1879

Bhabanath Sen got the lease of the whole land and water body
area for the next 20 years.

1881

A part of the leased land was acquired for works in


connection with the storm water channel.

1882

Construction of Dhapa Lock.

1884

Underground city sewers were laid.

1887

A new fish ghat, named Pagladanga, was established.

1895-97
1897

Construction of Bhangor Canal.


Some additional land was acquired for Drainage work.
Bhangor Kata khal was excavated.

1904

It was noticed that 452 bighas out of 1658 bighas of leased


land were under cultivation (mainly garbage farming).

1906

A five-mile storm-water reservoir was excavated from Palmer


Bazar to The Bidyadhari river at Bantala.

1908-1910
1929

Krishnapur (kestopur) khal was excavated.


First time commercial pisciculture was practiced by a private
entrepreneur.

1947

After Independence a large no. of refugees came to Kolkata.

1947

The actual development of Salt lake started after the


formation of the committee to examine the drainage problem.

30th Jan. 1953

A preliminary report presenting the general outlines to solve


the problem of reclamation was prepared.

1953

The Government finalized the scheme known as Reclamation


of Salt Lake Area.

4th October 1956

CPI criticized the Govt. decision to issue land acquisition notice


for the proposed scheme at Bamanghata, Hatkhola area in 24
Parganas district.

February, 1957

CPI again criticized the Govt.s decision of city expansion in a


mass meeting in Bamanghata.

1959

The team of WHO reviewed the complicated sanitation


problem of Kolkata.

16th June, 1959

A meeting of the Fact Finding committee was held in which a

resolution was adopted to place the question of feasibility


before the high-level commission with judicial and technical
experts.
24th July,1959

A Fact Finding committee consisting leading Congressmen and


bheri owners approached the Secretary to the Chief Minister.

9th September, 1959

A Fact Finding committee consisting of the leading


Congressmen and bheri owners submitted a memorandum
recommending abandonment of the proposed reclamation
plan the Chief Minister.

1960-1961

Some Planning decision had taken place for Calcutta


metropolitan district regarding water supply sewage drainage.

15th February 1961


1961-1971

The preliminary works of reclamation was started.


The growth rate of the East Kolkata was 15.1% and the growth
rate of the core Kolkata was 7.2%.

March, 1962

1965

The actual works of reclamation was started.

The Essential Commodities Act was formed. Following this Act


the licensing system in pisciculture was introduced to control
prices of fish.

1966

The Traffic and Transportation

Plan-16 (T.T.Plan) was

formulated.
Till 1968
1969

About 110 wagons of garbage were distributed daily.


The contract with the Sen. family had expired, and the total
land holding was taken over by C.M.C.

1974

The tipper truck and pay-loader vehicles replaced the system


of railways.

1978

Though no major conversion took place, but more and more


water bodies were transformed into rice fields.

1980

Few wetlands in the East Kolkata region were acquired for the
construction of Eastern Metropolitan Bye-pass.

1992

A PIL was launched by Calcutta based NGO named PUBLIC

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against the proposed plan of converting 800 acres of land for


the further extension of Salt Lake city and later for the
construction of World Trade Center.
The High Court Verdict delivered by Justice Umesh Ch.
Banerjee showed the waste-recycling region of East Kolkata
Area as the East Kolkata Wetland area. The High Court ruled
that no development activity could take place without its prior
permission. The map was later interpreted by Land and Land
reforms department, and department of Environment, Govt. of
West Bengal, in a government order that outlined 32 mouzas.
2002

East Kolkata wetland was finally declared as Wetland of


International Importance by Ramsar Bureau.

2005

West Bengal Ordinance no. VII of 2005


The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Management)
Ordinance, 2005

2005

East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority (EKWMA) was


formed.

2006, January

Bill No. 2 of 2006


The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Management
)Bill, 2006

2008

Management Plan for East Kolkata Wetlands

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Institutional Initiatives:
State Governments initiative: After this high court verdict the State Govt. started
considering the matter of conserving and protecting east Kolkata wetland more
seriously. The Department of Land & Land Reforms in association with the Department
of Environment, Govt. of West Bengal, made a detail land schedule of EKW showing all
the mouzas (full & part) falling in this area. This land schedule and a report describing
the uniqueness of EKW was sent to the Ramsar convention by the Govt. of India for
considering it as a wetland of international importance. As a consequence the Ramsar
Convention has declared this wetland as a Ramsar site on 19th August 2002. It has been
designated as Ramsar site no 1208 and has been included as the 19th Ramsar site in
India.
After the Ramsar declaration of East Kolkata Wetland (EKW) as an important site the
state government of West Bengal has formed a management committee under the
chairmanship of the
Chief Secretary. The objective of this committee is to look after the conservation and
restoration of the wetland. Under the management of this committee the whole area has
been delineated plot wise and area wise using the high-resolution satellite data. The
management committee has formulated an outline management plan for proper
conservation of this internationally important wetland. In March 2006 the West Bengal
Legislature has passed The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Act
for conservation and management of EKW and for matters connected therewith. It was
mentioned in this Act that an authority named the East Kolkata Wetlands Management
Authority (EKWMA) has been appointed for taking care of all conservation and
management issues in EKW area.
Significance of the system: The Kolkata Municipal Corporation area generates roughly
600 million liters of sewage and wastewater everyday and more than 2500 metric Tons
of garbage. The wastewater is led by underground sewers to the pumping stations in
the eastern limit of the city, and then pumped into open channels. The responsibility of
the Kolkata Municipal
Corporation ends with the reaching of the wastewater to the outfall channels.
Thereafter, the sewage and wastewater is drawn into the fisheries of the East Kolkata
Wetland by the people of this area, where within a few days detention, bio-degradation
of the organic compounds of the sewage and wastewater takes place. There are
networks of channels that are used to supply untreated sewage and to drain out the
spent water the sewage fed fishery ponds act as solar reactors. A dense population of
plankton taps solar energy. The fishes consume this plankton. While the plankton plays
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a highly significant role in degrading the organic matter in the wastewater, it becomes a
problem of pond management to tackle the phenomenon of plankton overgrowth. It is
at this critical phase of the ecological process that the fishes play an important role by
grazing on the plankton. The two fold role played by the fishes is indeed crucial they
maintain proper balance of the plankton population in the pond and also convert the
available nutrients in the wastewater into readily consumable form (viz. fish) for the
humans. This complex ecological process has been adopted by the fish farmers of the
East Kolkata Wetland, who have developed such a mastery of these resource recovery
activities that they are easily growing fish at an yield rate and production cost
unmatched in any other fresh water fish ponds of this country. Apart from sewer
Kolkata generates roughly 2500 Metric Tonnes of garbage (viz. solid wastes), which is
collected daily and dumped at designated sites in the East Kolkata wetland. The
Garbage filled area is extensively used to raise a variety of vegetables. The city receives
roughly 150 Metric Tonnes of vegetable everyday from its garbage farms. On the other
hand, the conventional technology options for the treatment of municipal sewage and
wastewater have been found to be excessively capital intensive, operationally unreliable
and highly energy expensive. Compare this with the city of Kolkata which gets its huge
volumes of daily sewage treated at no expense and getting in addition substantial daily
supply of highly edible freshwater fish (a very essential protein supplement in their
daily food). In fact, Kolkata city receives about one third of its daily requirement of fish
from the sewage-fed fisheries (about 11,000 Metric tonnes per annum).
The waste water ponds as well as garbage dumping fields all over EKW absorb and
treat huge volume of wastewater, urban solid and air wastes generated by the Kolkata
city in the most efficient, economical and natural way at no cost to the city but with
much gain. The products of this area substantially fulfill the requirement of fish,
vegetables and food-grains in the city. This waste recycling system absorbs the
pollution from, and purifies, the air that the citizens breathe. Floodwaters that the
monsoon downpours bring down on the city are absorbed and passed down to
downstream creeks and the sea through the huge canal network of EKW. This area
provides a habitat for a variety of flora and fauna and living organisms endemic to
wetlands. It also maintains the micro climatic condition of the region as well as the
delicate ecological balance in a fragile environment and eco-system. But most
importantly EKW provides livelihood support for thousands of local villagers who also
have the unique skill of using wastewater to grow fish and vegetable and thereby help
sustain a stable urban fringe.

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Major land-water interface (LWI) production systems in peri-urban Kolkata have been
described by a number of authors. Strategies employed include horticulture,
wastewater aquaculture and irrigated rice production (Olah, Sharangi and Datta 1986;
Ghosh and Sen, 1987; Ghosh, 1990; Ghosh, 1991; Kundu, 1994; Jana, 1998). Horticulture
practices have evolved to use nutrient enriched wastewater from the city for irrigation,
and to exploit organic residues, separated from solid waste collected in Kolkata, as a
nutrient source and soil conditioner. Ponds managed for wastewater aquaculture have
been established in wetland areas close to sewerage canals draining away from the city;
rice paddies further from the urban fringe are also irrigated with wastewater from these
drainage canals. In conjunction, these practices have evolved to produce dynamic,
interdependent farming systems at the LWI in peri -urban Kolkata. This review
summarises previous development initiatives related to production systems at the
Kolkata peri -urban interface, describes the major production systems, constraints
facing operators, benefits that may be contributing to the continued operation of these
systems and finally identifies some key knowledge gaps that require further
investigation.
From the review it is evident that although much is known regarding the management
and operation of the large-scale aquaculture and horticulture enterprises in the region,
no work has been done on collecting primary data through household survey in East
Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) area for assessing the scope of optimum use of natural as well
as human resources and to understand the need of capacity building. Furthermore,
despite the proposition that these peri -urban production systems supply affordable
vegetables, fish and livestock to urban markets it is not known whether poor
households have access to this produce, therefore, it is suggested that this issue requires
further investigation. However, in addition to examining the role of these production
systems in the livelihoods of poor people, it is proposed that further investigation on
the constraints reviewed here will assist in the identification of development
opportunities and researchable constraints, that when addressed may lead to improved
prospects for livelihoods enhancement. Finally, it is proposed that knowledge
generated on the constraints and opportunities for livelihood enhancement through the
proposed study will prove valuable in developing peri-urban natural resource
management strategies that benefit the poor.
Previous development initiatives:
Wastewater aquaculture production systems at the Kolkata peri -urban interface have
attracted much international attention as a model system for the productive reuse of
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waste resources. Contributions to the UNDP -ESCAP-World Bank sponsored workshop


highlighted aspects of wastewater reuse practices for aquaculture, including a series of
recommendations for further research on the design and operation of culture systems,
public health aspects and technology transfer and dissemination (Edwards and Pullin,
1990). Following this conference, it was widely acknowledged that the East Kolkata
Wetlands system should be investigated further to elucidate the complexity of the
interrelationships within wastewater aquaculture systems (Edwards, pers. comm.).
Subsequently, ODA commissioned a project identification mission (Asian Institute of
Technology, 1991) and following this initial review, ODA commissioned Lagoon
Technology International Limited to conduct a pre-appraisal mission to develop a
research proposal for a two phase project, the first focusing on the operation and
performance of existing wastewater aquaculture practices and the second facilitating
the implementation of findings and recommendations (Lagoon Technology
International, 1993). Despite a comprehensive description of the physical nature, health
risks, social aspects, environmental considerations and future prospects, a detailed
project proposal and an assessment of local institutional capacity, ODA requested a
follow -up mission prior to commissioning the full project (Muir, Goodwin and Walker,
1994). The purpose of this study was to develop a more integrated approach
considering the relative merits of alternative sewage treatment and wastewater
aquaculture, and also identified potential clients for research outputs. The authors
concluded that a major research and development project was difficult to justify, and
that a more modest study would be appropriate. This could review existing
information, provide initial technical and economic data to waste managers and assist
in creating a focus for further development, including support for local actors and
stakeholders involved in integrated waste reuse. Following this recommendation, the
management of the DFID Aquaculture Research Programme commissioned a
programme development exercise, entitled Constraints and opportunities for
wastewater aquaculture: identifying directions and mechanisms for change. This short
project focused explicitly on institutional issues, policies, structures and processes that
influence the operation of ponds managed for wastewater aquaculture at the peri-urban
interface. A preliminary review compiled at the outset of the project identified a range
of issues that were considered relevant to the current status and future prospects of
wastewater aquaculture.
Production system at EKW:
Kundu (1994) describes in detail the origins and current status of the major peri -urban
LWI production systems in the wetlands immediately to the east of Kolkata. The major
15

production systems i.e. wastewater aquaculture and horticulture are discussed in more
detail in the following sections. Rice production in paddy fields at the Kolkata peri
urban interface has also been described and this aspect of the agro -ecosystem is
reviewed below. However, having reviewed the literature, it appears that little work
has been undertaken regarding the importance of livestock in the LWI production
systems at the Kolkata peri urban interface.
In Peri -urban EKW aquaculture, horticulture and rice production have a mutual
dependence on wastewater from Kolkata, however. The nature of agreements and
strategies for sharing the wastewater resource have not been widely reported, nor the
constraints associated with this mutual dependence. The general extent of these farming
practices have been described and mean levels of productivity have been extrapolated.
However, knowledge on the range of productivity and the relationship this has with
access to resources, input levels and management strategies has not been reported.
Furthermore, the apparent lack of studies regarding livestock farming around Kolkata
may be a significant oversight as it has been shown the livestock production at the peri
urban interface of other cities plays several important roles in the livelihoods of poor
people (Richardson and Whitney, 1995; Brook and Davila, 2000; Nunan, 2000). With respect
to Hubli-Dharwad, India, Nunana (2000) noted that urban dairies contribute to
household nutrition and income generation, manure inputs are important in
maintaining soil fertility and livestock provide draught power for other peri -urban
agricultural activities. The following section presents a review of possible constraints to
the continued operation of the major production systems outlined above.
Constrains in EKW system:
Furedy (1990) reported that wastewater aquaculture was in decline in several countries
i.e. Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan, and that in China, aquaculture using human excreta
was due to be phased out. Furthermore, Muir et al. (1994) report that a general fall in
productivity has been observed in the peri -urban fishponds to the east of Kolkata, a
production system that has been regarded widely as a model for wastewater
aquaculture. With respect to traditional peri -urban production practices a number of
factors threaten their continued operation and constrain the development of more
refined management strategies for this potentially highly productive system. Indicators,
such as the area managed for peri urban production, the number of people employed
and the levels of production show a general decline (Kundu, 1994; Mui r et al., 1994;
Mukherjee, 1996). Several diverse factors have impinged upon this established and
potentially highly productive system (Kundu, 1994).

16

Urban development encroaching into peri -urban areas affects the physical nature of the
environment and leads to more subtle changes in social interactions. In the recent past
the Indian government imposed compulsory acquisition on peri-urban areas used for
horticulture and wastewater aquaculture; this had both a direct impact on those people
displaced and generated feelings of insecurity within the more general community. The
largely unregulated sprawl of the urban fringe is seen as an irresistible force, once again
generating feelings of insecurity. Feelings of insecurity manifest themselves in what
have been termed law and order problems (Kundu, 1994); it would appear that
disgruntled laborers, confused as to the legal basis of ownership, dewater the ponds
and poach the fish prior to the seemingly inevitable cessation in operations. The
distribution of benefits derived from aquaculture to a wider section of the community
can occur through the presentation of fish to family and friends in the form of gifts; this
custom was reportedly widespread in Saidpur, Bangladesh. In addition, it was found
that through the distribution of some fish at harvest time to community members
residing closest to the ponds, it was possible to reduce the proportion of unaccounted
for fish. This was attributed to either a reduction in poaching carried out by the
recipients or greater vigilance on behalf of these neighbors, reducing the incidence of
both poaching and predation (Bunting, Edwards and Muir, 1999). In contrast to the
scenario presented above, the demand for land and potential benefit from selling this
asset may encourage some owners to limit access to their property; from the perspective
of the owner, restricting access may prevent others from laying claim to rights over the
property and reduce the potential for conflict that could delay or disrupt the sale.
Mechanisms employed to restrict access may include the termination of leases or
actively discouraging the continued operation of production practices. Feelings of
insecurity engendered through the common practice of issuing only short-term leases
have been cited as stifling innovation and constraining investment in the maintenance
of the existing infrastructure supporting peri-urban production.
Surprisingly, following a survey of the distribution and management of peri -urban
farming practices around Kolkata, Kundu (1994) noted that neither garbage nor sewage
seems to be directly linked to the ongoing production activities in East Kolkata. Results
from this survey indicated that only 15% of respondents perceived the inadequacy of
the sewage supply as a limiting factor and it was suggested that this was due to the fact
that the majority of bheries in operation today are not dependent on municipal
wastewater (Kundu, 1994). However, this situation of non -reliance on the wastewater
resource could have evolved due to poor management of the wastewater supply
system. It may have been in the interests of operators to purchase alternative, more
17

manageable nutrient sources e.g. inorganic fertiliser, as opposed to relying on an


unpredictable supply of free wastewater from the city. The inadequate supply of
wastewater was only one of a number of technical factors identified during interviews
with key informants that could potentially be threatening the sustainability of the
existing wastewater aquaculture system. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC)
and Department of Irrigation and Waterways (DIW) are responsible for the distribution
of the wastewater to the wetlands to the east of Kolkata; however, these departments
are under no obligation to supply the needs of the aquaculturists in the area.
Individuals involved in aquaculture have no say in the control of the water level in the
supply channels and consequently the supply of sewage is largely unpredictable. It has
been suggested that the wastewater aquaculturists find themselves in this position as no
payment is made for the waste resource (Muir et al., 1994). Other factors also constrain
the equitable distribution of wastewater resources amongst users. Siltation of the urban
drainage systems has been implicated in limiting the degree of control that the urban
authorities have over the levels of wastewater in the canals used to supply fishponds;
problems with the maintenance of pumping stations and regulating the operation of
sluice gates have also been implicated in hampering the delivery of wastewater (Kundu,
1994). A further facto r to consider is that of competition between those groups
exploiting the wastewater resource (Kundu, 1994). Introducing a pricing system for the
waste resource may be one approach to optimising the use of the waste resource,
although, such a strategy would probably disadvantage the poor. The potential of
developing markets for waste resources in stimulating improved supply channels has
been further highlighted by Furedy et al. (1997); these authors suggested that where
traditional solid waste reuse practices have declined, establishing markets for organic
waste may promote separation and collection, increasing the value of this resource to
farmers and providing income for those involved in waste processing.
Having reviewed the literature it appears that major LWI production systems at the
Kolkata peri -urban interface are under threat on a number of fronts. Encroachment of
urban development leads to the physical loss of land previously available for peri
urban production systems, this physical loss also leads to the disruption of local
communities and engenders feelings of insecurity. Uncertainty over the future of peri urban production systems and the prospect of more rewarding employment has
resulted in the loss of experienced workers. Improved access to urban markets for rural
producers, through improved communications, has diminished the competitive
advantages of peri urban producers. The risk of contamination, leading to public
health threats, and changing consumer perceptions may be further reducing the
18

demand for products from such systems. Operators of peri -urban farming systems
have to manage uncertain and variable waste resource inputs and contend with the
limited availability to loans and information. In combination these factors have lead to a
reluctance to innovate and invest in enhanced management approaches. Furthermore,
contamination, disease problems, environmental degradation and risk -averse
management strategies may have led to the widely perceived decline in productivity
within the peri-urban farming systems, reducing the competitiveness of these farming
enterprises.

19

Need Assessment
The principal benefits that may be associated with peri -urban production systems have
been summarized in this paragraph. For poor people the most tangible of these benefits
appear to be employment, income generation and food security. However, wider
benefits afforded to society by such production systems i.e. health protection, economic
benefits, resource recovery, environmental protection and additional functional and
nonfunctional values may also play an important role in the livelihoods of poor people.
According to Goodland (1990) the World Bank has acknowledged the need to include a
wider range of issues in economic decisions and to revise the economic appraisal of
projects to include externalities and sustainability. From this review it is evident that a
more thorough assessment of the wide range of benefits associated with peri urban
production systems will be useful in informing target institutions, planners and policy
makers of the true value of these systems to both poor people and society in general.
Considering the politcal economy as well the as the ecological history so far of this
wetland the paradigm of collaborative resource manageement i.e., Co-management will
be best-suited guiding principle for the conservaiton of this wetland. The capacity
development intervention will follow the principles of co-management as in-built
mechanism in order to restore communities supremacy in resource utilization. A range
of wetland stakeholders exist at local, regional and national policy levels, including
government organizations and NGOs, who play a role in wetland management and
have a direct influence on the way local people interact with their wetlands. In
promoting and implementing wetland management, which is environmentally,
economically and socially sustainable, there is, therefore, a need to engage all
stakeholders in (management) discussions to facilitate effective co-operation,
communication and participation of different interest groups. This is essential for
helping identify and raise awareness of cross-sectoral issues of wetland management. A

20

critical means of doing this is through the use of participatory research and
implementation approaches.
Any effective management plan will have to address the different types of problems
related to these different types of lands and land use pattern. Simultaneously, the
possibility of alternative and better uses within the given parameters need to be
explored.
For example, the watercourses need to be widened and de-silted in a manner which is
economical and which meets the demands of agriculture and fish farming.
In respect of agriculture, it has been pointed out that paddy cultivation is becoming
uneconomical over time because of rising input costs. The original cultivators are
showing a tendency to switch over either to fisheries or alienate their land to real estate
agents.
So far as waste disposal site is concerned two things need to be thoroughly looked into
in a long-term management plan. It may be pointed out that garbage disposal site is no
longer one but two, threatening to be three in the near future. While the garbage of
Kolkata is still being dumped in the Dhapa area, Salt Lake Municipal Authority is
dumping its garbage at Mollar Bheri (a Ramsar site). It is expected that when Rajarhat
Township comes up it will also encroach upon the wetland because it is adjacent. From
the management point of view two types of problems need to be addressed.
It is well known that the local settlers recycle garbage as very eco-friendly fertilizer
supporting the cultivation of a good number of crops and vegetables.
Similarly, the Kolkata Sewage is used in the fisheries as a very nutritious fish-feed.
Now, because of the change in the composition of the garbage containing a large
volume of non-biodegradable matters such as plastic, the farmers are being forced to
switch over to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This in turn is pushing up the demand
for more water for which the pump sets are being used. All these are raising the input
costs substantially.
In fact, both agriculture and pisciculture are suffering from increasing shortage of water
which can be taken care of with proper planning and development of water courses and
21

waterbodies and proper management of the sewage disposal system ensuring


participation of the local stake holders, the NGOs and community based organizations.
So far as alternatives to agriculture as viable economic options are concerned proper
survey needs be taken up to explore the possibilities of introducing horticulture and
floriculture in degraded wetlands and part of the uplands which will once again bind
the owners or the lease-holders with their own lands. They have to be motivated not to
alienate their lands.
Similarly, the possibility of developing parts of the uplands and degraded wetlands into
nature and thematic parks as well as education cum recreation centers should be
explored. In fact, the areas can be imaginatively used to stock many of the commonly
known but vanishing species of flora and fauna, which Bengal was once proud of and
which have repeatedly been mentioned in the Bengali literature.
The idea of re-locating the Calcutta Zoological Garden in these areas may also be
revived and re-explored.
Proper study is also required for the study of wetland biosphere so as to prepare an
effective plan for the maintenance of its bio-diversity.
There is a persistent suggestion from the local people that keeping an eye to future
development of not only the wetland area but also the region as a whole, the old
Bidyadhari channel needs to be restored. In that case it can once again be used as
navigational channel connecting some of the East Kolkata watercourses providing new
openings for the people and the product of the area. Additionally, it may once again
restore the adjoining degraded wetlands into their former conditions.
Suitable methods of garbage dumping and garbage recycling will also have to be found
out. Otherwise, increase in volume of garbage will lead to continuous shrinkage of the
wetland area.
Proper legislation backed up by public awareness building campaigns will have to be
taken recourse to so as to minimize plastic and other ecologically unfriendly
constituents of the garbage of Kolkata and other urban areas.

22

Horticulture, aquaculture and paddy farming practices exploiting wastewater and


garbage resources in peri-urban Kolkata produce significant quantities of fresh market
produce. It also provides direct and indirect employment for mainly poor people and
managed wastewater reuse reduces health risks from unregulated discharges and
protects downstream environments.
The East Kolkata Wetland area is the actual place where these activities of horticulture,
aquaculture and paddy farming is carried out through a natural waste recycling
process. The place is a part of the delta of the river Ganga. The present wetland area
was inter-distributary marshes in this delta, consisting of active tributaries,
distributaries and re-distributaries of the Ganga that dried up with the shifting of the
main river. Over time, the land became depressed because silt was no longer deposited
there. Since the slope of the land was gradual so it became a natural drainage system.
The marshes that remained were located between the rivers Hooghly in the West and
Bidyadhari in the East. These two rivers were formerly saltwater rivers due to the influx
of the tides from the Bay of Bengal through the Bidyadhari and Matla rivers. With the
completion of the sewage and storm water drainage schemes for Calcutta in 1884, the
Bidyadhari, which happened to be the main outlet for these schemes, dried up. This
was further exacerbated by the drainage scheme introduced by the Kulti Outfall
Scheme. Subsequently the water in the bheris changed from saline to non-saline, and
carp culture was started with regular sewage inflows from the year 1929.In 1945, there
were 20,000 acres of wetland of which nearly 18,000 acres were used for sewage fed
pisciculture by around 350 fisheries. In 1956, the Salt Lake Reclamation Scheme was
formulated leading to the conversion of half of the wetland area. Since 1978, though no
major conversion has taken place, more and more wetlands have been converted for
rice cultivation. In 1980, a part of the wetland area as well as a part of the Kolkata
Municipal Corporations Solid Waste Disposal Ground was filled up for the
construction of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.
Problems regarding the Sewage Canals and the Fish Ponds:Most of the sewage canals suffer from the major problem of siltation. This silt gets
deposited from the waste water and sewage flowing through these canals. This reduces
the depth of the sewage canals, as a result of which, the areas beside these canals often
suffer from the threat of getting flooded, especially during the rains. The problem of
siltation is common in the fish- ponds as well. In these fish- ponds, a wastewater
recycling process is carried out through sewage-fed fish cultivation. For this purpose,
the ponds are required to have a specific depth. Due to siltation, the depths of these
23

fish- ponds are getting reduced, as a result of which, the natural way of wastewater
recycling, through sewage-fed fish cultivation is getting hampered. Desiltation in the
ponds and the canals is, hence, a necessity for better functioning of this whole system.
The soil extracted from desiltation can be used to create embankments on the sides of
the fishponds and canals, so that they do not overflow during heavy rains and affect the
neighbouring areas. People have also complained that the quality of sewage is getting
reduced day by day. The amount of biodegradable wastes, that are needed for fish feed,
are getting reduced day by day. Instead, the quantity of chemical content in the wastes
in the sewage, coming from the entire city of Kolkata, and especially from Kolkata
Leather Complex is basically disturbing the natural wastewater recycling system.
Moreover, due to siltation, the quantity of sewage is also getting reduced. The major
problems regarding desiltation is that, the proper infrastructure required for desiltation
is quite costly and is hence, out of the reach of the fish cultivators. Hence, financial aid
from the government is needed for the purpose. As far as this matter of desiltation in
the sewage canals is concerned, the names of a few specific canals, like Krishnopur
canal, Bamonghata canal, Tally canal, have also been mentioned by the participants, in
different FGDs.
Irrigation and Drainage:Other than fish cultivation, paddy and vegetable cultivation is yet another common
occupation of the people residing in that area. Many of the fields in that area have the
capacity of cultivation, twice or thrice a year. But, due to lack of proper supply of water,
cultivation in these lands become difficult, even once a year. Better irrigation facilities
are required for better output from these lands. Specifically during summer, getting
adequate water for cultivation purposes becomes difficult. The condition of the existing
irrigation canals is not very good. Moreover, the water supply for irrigation is done
through shallow water pumps which is a quite costly method. A contrast problem is
seen during the rains when the agricultural fields get waterlogged due to a bad
drainage system and the crop gets ruined due to excess water. A better drainage system
is thus required, with concretized drains, so that the stagnant rainwater can smoothly
flow out of the fields and the crops can be saved from being ruined.
Other Problems in Sewage-fed Fish Cultivation and Vegetable Cultivation:There are many barren lowlands in the area, which are not used for agricultural
purposes. If these lands are further dug to create fish ponds, then, this will increase the
amount of fish available from the area and will also increase employment opportunities
24

for the unemployed people in the area. Moreover, in many of the ponds, fish cultivation
is not flourishing much and the owners of these ponds have demanded some sort of aid
for improvement of their cultivation procedure and their products. Also, many fish
cultivators do not have enough money for buying medicines for fish diseases and
government aid has been demanded for this purpose. People have also demanded
training programme for making the process of fish cultivation more scientific, so that
the amount of fishes available increases and so does the profit of the fish cultivators and
other people associated with the process of fish cultivation.
People have also demanded for the modernization of the system of paddy and
vegetable cultivation, along with financial aid from the government for buying
fertilizers and pesticides. The desiltation of the sewage canals is also necessary because
the solid wastes coming from these canals act as fertilizers for the crops in the fields.
The Calcutta Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMPO) released its basic plan
document in 1966, in which it took a very strong position against the eastward
expansion of the city (Banerjee, 2012). In spite of that, the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass
and Salt Lake City has been constructed on reclaimed wetlands making the core
wetland area more accessible and attractive to the real estate speculators. The Institute
of Wetland Management and Ecological Design (IWMED) was set up in the early 1980s
but it never obtained the statutory powers needed to play the role expected from it.
On 24 September 1992, high court justice Umesh Chandra Banerjee delivered the first
major judgement on the matter where it has been recognized that the wetlands are too
precious to be sacrificed for a mere township. Another landmark is the recognition of the
EKW as an International Ramsar site on 19 August 2002.16 Following this, in the year
2006 East Kolkata Wetlands Conservation and Management Bill was passed and 12,571
hectares of land was brought within the wetland boundary. According to this bill not
only any new construction within EKW will be severely penalized but all existing
constructions within this area would have to be demolished immediately.
Three types of land use changes in the EKW can be identified: from water body to
urban settlement, from agricultural field to urban settlement and from open space to
urban settlement. Out of 32 mouzas in all, such changes in favour of urban settlement
were noticed in 12 mouzas.14 To figure out the geographical concentration of such
changes, the entire EKW has been divided into a few sub-regions like Eastern, Western,
Northern and South-Western. In the Eastern and Northern part no significant change
has been observed. The changes are mostly concentrated in the Western and the SouthWestern parts.
Thus, the core wetland area has been legally protected to preserve this unique
ecosystem. However, the legal authority failed to understand the strategic role of the
25

buffer area (area between the main city and the wetlands) in protecting the core area. A
ring of Regulated Development Zone (RDZ) around No Development Zone (NDZ)
would have been helpful for sustenance of the wetland (Chattopadhyay, 2003). In the
absence of any such regulatory check the majority of small pond-owners or fishgrowers find the secret offers of land transfer financially lucrative enough to accept. The
legal disapproval only made the path circuitous and the transactions covert. However,
the end results are grossly observable from the recent GIS mapping of the land use
pattern.
The foregoing discussion makes us aware of the difficulty of maintaining an ecosystem
dependent livelihood in close proximity of aggressively developing urban metropolis.
The ecosystem emerged through a number of historical events and provided livelihood
to nearly 0.1 million people. However, with the opening up of urban opportunities the
local people are not always considering the traditional options lucrative enough and
those who are better placed in terms of education and skill are readily joining newer
vocations. This is encouraging further urban encroachment and putting the ecosystem
dependent livelihood into more severe threat. Resistance from the civil society in the
form of a series of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) has compelled some legal
intervention into the matter; change of land use pattern within the core area has been
legally banned. However, the land use pattern in the buffer area has experienced drastic
change over last two decades and the urban topography has changed altogether. This is
making it almost impossible for the core area to retain its unique characteristics.

26

PROBLEMS/THREATS
To identify the problems of the wetlands system East Kolkata Wetlands were divided in to 11 regions with distinct physical,
environmental and social characteristics. A problem census was conducted in each region to verify the key constraints facing

Consultations with local stakeholders

stakeholders living and working in the wetlands.

Region 2

Locally-prioritised problems & solutions

Regional
categorisation
Problems:

1
2

11

10

3 4

1.) lack of water


2.) siltation of ponds
3.) siltation of feeder canal
4.) sewage quality (pollution)

Solutions:

1) Desiltation of feeder canal, inlets,


outlets and fishponds.
2) Improve water distribution.

27

Regional Categorisation Problem census and Defining Management objectives


Region

Proximity to
main sewage
canals/quality
sewage
availability:
Close/moderate

Type of land
use

Size of the
land
holding

Accessibility

Proximity to
area of
environmental
hazard

Proximity to
area of massive
urbanization

Management
Objective

Fish farming,
Urban
settlement

Large

best

Moderate

Contiguous to
the
city.
(Western
and
northern side).

#
#
#

Close/moderate

Fish farming

Large and
medium

good

Moderate

Adjacent to the
city
and
upcoming
township.
(northern fringe)

#
#
#

Encroachment
prevention
Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.
Encroachment
prevention
Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.

Problem
census

#
#
#

#
#
#
#

Close/not good

Close/bad

Close/moderate

Fish farming

fragmented

Not good

Mostly fish
farming,
some
agriculture

Medium
and
fragmented

Not good

Agriculture
and
Fish
farming

Medium
and
fragmented

Good

Moderate

Moderate

Moderate

Adjacent to the
city
and
upcoming
township.
(northern fringe)

Not
immediate
neighbour

Distant

so

#
#

#
#

Encroachment
prevention
Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.
Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.

Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.

#
#

Actions Required

Sewage
Quality
Siltation of
fish ponds
Siltation of
canal

Lack of
water
Siltation of
ponds
Siltation of
feeder
canal
Sewage
quality
Inadequate
sewage
Poor civic
amenities
Lack of
water

Siltation of
ponds
Siltation of
feeder
canal

#
#
#

De-silt
Khashmahal
Canal
De-silt outlet
pipes

Desiltation of
feeder canals,
inlets, outlets
and fish ponds
Improve water
distribution

Divert
chowbaga
waterstation
water south (via
chak-kolar khal,
Kheyadaha 1&
2 and Bidy
dhari)
Desilt parachaprashi khal
(Bantala to
Tardah),
ghosher khal
and Feeder
canal
Prevent
Tannery influx
De-silt ponds
Better sluice
gate gate

28

#
#
6

Close/not good

Fish farming

Medium
and small

Good

Moderate

Neighbouring
(western side)

#
#
#

Encroachment
prevention
Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.

#
#
#
#

Distant/bad

Dominantly
fish farming
and
some
agriculture

Small and
fragmented

Not good

Moderate

Not
immediate
neighbour

so

#
#

Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.

#
#
#
#

Distant/bad

Agriculture
and
Fish
farming,
Seasonal

Small and
fragmented

Not good

Moderate

Distant

#
#

Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.

#
#
#

Sewage
quality
Poor civic
amenities
Sewage
quality
Siltation of
ponds
Siltation of
feeder
canal
Poor civic
amenities

management at
Bantala

#
#

Lack of
sewage
Sewage
quality
Lack of
irrigable
water
Poor civic
amenities

Sewage
quality
Siltation
Poor civic
amenities

#
9

Close
bidydhari/bad

to

Agriculture

Small and
fragmented

Bad

Moderate

Distant

#
#

10

Close/bad

Agriculture

Small and
fragmented

Good

Highly potential
due
to
the

Distant

Production
enhancement
Improvement
in civic
amenities.

Production
enhancement

#
#

Lack of
irrigable
water
Siltation
Poor civic
amenities
Lack of
sewage

De-silt
Chowbaga and
Boynala canal
De-silt branch
canals Khyer
khal and
Dongasara
noror khal.
Unblock 2
siphons near
Lalkuthi.
Desiltation of
ponds and
Bidydhari
Better water
management
with Bantala
lock gate and
excavating new
canals.
Stop chemical
discharge.
Better water
management
with Bantala
lock gate and
excavating new
canals.
De-siltation of
Bidydhari and
branch canals
De-siltation of
Bidydhari and
branch canals

29

11

Close/moderate

Waste
disposal and
Garbage
Farming

Small

Good

neighbouring
Kolkata
leather
complex
High, being the
solid
waste
disposal area of
the city.

#
Contiguous but
controlled
by
KMC.

Improvement
in civic
amenities.

#
#
#
#
#
#

Sewage
quality
Siltation
Urban
encroachm
ent
Pollution
Lack of
irrigable
water
Sewage
availability.

30

Following the above exercise of problems/threats identification, as developed by


Institute of Environmental Studies and Wetland Management, this study surveyed the
rural area within the wetland. There are seven gram panchayats, viz. Kheadaha I,
Kheadaha 2 and Pratapnagar of Sonarpur block, Bamanghata, Beonta I and Beonta II of
Bhangar II Block and Tardaha of Bhangar I Block, under the jurisdiction of south twenty
four parganas district. The survey teams conducted meetings with all these seven gram
panchayats. And then focus group discussions were organised at habitation level.
Following are the list of habitations identified during the survey procedure.
Mouza
Chak kolar khal
Karimpur
Jagadipota
Mukundapur
Atghara
Ranabhutia
Kantipota
Bhagabanpur

Kharki
Deara

Kheadaha
Khodahati

Goalpota
Kumarpukuria

Tardah

Village
Chak kolar khal
Nazirabad
Jagadipota
Mukundapur
Rabindra park
Atghara
Radha housing
Ranabhutia
Chamurait
Katipota
Goalbati
Kalar khal
Khuderabad
Uchchhepota
Belekhali
Kharki
Geotala
Dargatala
Deara
Kheadaha
Moulihati
Khodahati
Bajbarantala
Gerodanga
Gopalnagar
Khardanga
Saintala
Goalpota
Jhinukpara
Kumarpukur
Nimtala
Boinala

Admin. Unit

Kheadaha - II

Kheadaha I

31

Tihuria

Nayabad

Samukpota

Pratapnagar
Garal
Hatgachha

Hadia

Dharmatala Panchuria
Kulberia
Beonta

Tardah Kapasati

Harapur
Baburabad
Challa para
Ghulla
Pailen
2 no.saheber abad
Dakshin Tihuria
Saheber abad
Tihuria
Uttar Tihuria
Nayabad
Uttar Nayabad
Vutpukur
Addirabad
Chaonamari
Samukpota
Tara mistry abad
Pratapnagar
Uttar Pratapnagar
Garal
Saralia
Dakshin Hatgachha
Madhya Hatgachha
Uttar Hatgachha
1 no. Colony
Chochoria
Dakshin Bamonghata
New Bamonghata
Uttar Bamonghata
Bamonghata
Bogdoba
Pukurait
Dharmatala
Kulberia
Beonta
Kamlait
Koilait
Tikidhara
Hanakhali
Kantatala
Naskarait
Kapasait
Tardah

Kheadaha I

Pratapnagar

Bamanghata

Beonta I

Beonta - II

Beonta I

32

Tardah kapasait
Seoradaria
Nazir gheri
Barahopota
Bhangarkhal
Chandipur
Haripota
Jhoukhali
Kakuria
Katatala
Khorokhali
Tong para

Tardaha

Comparing the cesus data of 2001 and of 2011 it was revealed that, in most cases higher
the rate of population growth lower the degree of dependence on natural resources.
14000

12000

10000

8000

6000

4000

2000

Total Population:_2001

Total Population:_2011

Total Cultivator_2001

Dhapa Manpur

Karimpur

Deara

Hadia

KumarPukhuria

Tardaha

Nayabad

Tihuria

Kharki

Beonta

Kulberia

Hatgachha

Goalpota

Kheadaha

Dharmatala Panchuria

Tardaha Kapasati

Chak Kolar Khal

Kghodahati

Kantipota

Atghara

Ranabhutia

Jagatipota

Bhagabanpur

Mukundapur

Total Cultivator_2011

33

For the villages, those have witnessed most growth in population, total other
workers have increased significantly. The populations that are still depending on
natural resources for livelihood are mostly agricultural labourer.
2500%

Top 12 villages by population growth


Total Population:

2000%

Total Cultivator
1500%

Total Agricultural Labour

1000%

500%

2500%

Goalpota

Kheadaha

Dharmatala
Panchuria

Tardaha Kapasati

Chak Kolar Khal

Kghodahati

Kantipota

Atghara

Ranabhutia

-500%

Jagatipota

Mukundapur

Bhagabanpur

0%

Bottom 12 villages by population growth

2000%
Total Population:

Total Cultivator

1500%
1000%
500%

Dhapa Manpur

Karimpur

Deara

Hadia

KumarPukhuria

Tardaha

Nayabad

Tihuria

Kharki

Beonta

Kulberia

-500%

Hatgachha

0%

34

2500%

All villages by population growth

2000%

Total Population:

Total Cultivator

1500%

1000%

500%

Dhapa Manpur

Karimpur

Deara

Hadia

KumarPukhuria

Tardaha

Nayabad

Kharki

Tihuria

Beonta

Kulberia

Hatgachha

Goalpota

Kheadaha

Dharmatala Panchuria

Tardaha Kapasati

Chak Kolar Khal

Kghodahati

Kantipota

Atghara

Ranabhutia

Jagatipota

Bhagabanpur

-500%

Mukundapur

0%

The habitation level focus group discussions have come up with the following
suggestions:
Substantially Waterbody Area
1. IMPROVEMENT OF SEWAGE SUPPLY:
The Kolkata sewage is drained out from the city through different pumping stations,
these are Palmer Bazaar, Beleghata, Topsia, Ballygunj, Kestopur and Chowbagha. The
sewage being lifted from these pumping stations is taken into East Kolkata area through
different channels. Storm Weather Flow (SWF) canal, Dry Weather Flow (DWF) canal,
Central Lake canal & Kestopur canal. Sewage from Beleghata, Palmer Bazaar, Topsia
and Chowbagha pumping stations is accumulated in the Bantala area from where it is
supplied to the fisheries by Paraanchaprasi canal, Ghosher canal & Fishery feeding
35

canal. There is another canal which was extremely used for carrying the sewage from
the fishery feeding canal to further south connecting the abandon water courses of
Bidyadhari river. But during 70s the connection was closed by local people for certain
reason. It is to be mentioned that there were several arterial canals connecting the fish
ponds spread over there.
In the survey undertaken for the preparation of a detail management plan reveals that
all the Fishery feeding canal, Palmer Bazaar canal and Ghosher canal are encroached in
many places and depth reduced by siltation in its bent. This situation has further
aggravated by the inefficient operation of sluice gate both at Topsia-1 and Bantala. In
both these place the arrangement was to close the canal of comparatively low level for
raising the water level to a point which is necessary for supplying sewage to input
canals of the fisheries. Further in some areas the arterial canal of respective fish ponds
are used both for sewage as well as to drain out the water from the fisheries.
The sewage quality has undergone a substantial change because of removal of khatals
and slaughter houses from the city and a large part of added area is not connected with
traditional sewage system.
Additionally a number of polluting industries are still discharging in the sewage even
after removal of Leather Complex from the city.
A considerable amount of sludge is being deposited in the fish pond and thereby depth
of fisheries has reduced.
A seasonal mismanagement of sewage supply is seen in this wetland region. If the
sewage water is pumped into the DWF canal then fisheries can get it properly and use it
in fish farming. But this canal doesnt have natural slope. On the other hand SWF canal
has a natural slope, but fisheries have no access to this canal. In the rainy season the
wastewater of the whole Kolkata city is drained out through the SWF canal only, as a
result DWF canal faces low water level and hence fisheries and agricultural fields dont
get adequate amount of sewage water.
36

2. DESILTATION WORKS
All the canals through which the city sewage is drained out e.g. SWF canal, DWF canal,
Central Lake canal & Kestopur canal are now facing the problem of siltation. This is not
only the problem of main canals but also of numerous arterial canals which supply
sewage water in various fisheries. As a result the fisheries are not getting adequate
amount of sewage. This siltation problem thus adversely affecting the pisciculture of
this region.
Additionally the fishponds are also facing this problem of siltation. The depth of the
fishponds has reduced at an alarming rate affecting the production rate of fisheries
negatively. Additionally the road network of the area is quite poor which makes it
difficult to carry out the soil after siltation from wetland area.
3. PRODUCTION PROCESS
Production process must address the enhancement of local livelihood. Most of the
people in waterbody region depend upon fish farming for ages. The fish farming
business has been quite profitable for them. But now a days fish farmers are facing
various problems regarding pisciculture. Hence various innovative ideas regarding bio
diverse production can be introduced in this waterbody region which will enhance local
livelihood economically as well as physically.
4. RESIDENTIAL AREA WITHIN EKW
In the land use classification residential area is clearly marked in the record on the basis
of 2003 January data. In the settlement area only two storied building may be allowed to
the local people.
Improvement of Agricultural Area
1. IMPROVEMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND MARKETING FACILITIES OF AGRICULTURAL
PRODUCE:

The areas of agricultural fields in east Kolkata wetland region lack infrastructure
facilities. The most important one is road network. The poor road network connecting
37

the residential villages and crop fields is an obstacle towards the improvement of
livelihood in EKW. Because of the poor road network, marketing facility is also
hampered in this region. People are selling their produce only at nearby markets. They
dont have the access to the city markets.
2. PROMOTION OF OTHER ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES:
In wetland region various economic activities other than paddy cultivation, which are
new to this area, should be promoted.
3. IMPROVEMENT OF IRRIGABLE WATER:
Most of the agricultural fields of EKW region are suffering from acute shortage of
irrigable water. The problem becomes more severe in the dry season. In some places
irrigation is done by shallow. The scarcity of water is the most important cause behind
poor performance of agriculture.
Improvement of Productive Farming Area
1. TAKING STEPS AGAINST URBAN ENCROACHMENT
The garbage farming area, being so close to the urban Kolkata is a very attractive zone
for urban use. Thus the local people are always in fear of losing their land. This problem
is severe for dhapa region.
2. DEMARCATION OF DUMPING AREA
The garbage dumping area is spilling over into the garbage farming area. This is
hampering the production of vegetables as well as the livelihood of local residents.
3. PROMOTING VARIOUS PRODUCTIVE ACTIVITIES
In garbage farming region various productive activities through resource recovery
system should be promoted.

38

KHEYADAH I

KHEYADAH II

List of references: Books and Articles


1. Adhikari, S., Mitra, A. and Gupta, S.K. 1992. Post-irrigation effect of sewage
application on soil micronutrients and some heavy metals in north -eastern
fringe of Calcutta. Paper Presented at the Workshop on Micronutrients,
Bhubaneswar, January 1992.
2. Alaerts, G.J., Rahman Mahbubar, Md. and Kelderman, P. 1996. Performance
analysis of a full-scale duckweed-covered sewage lagoon. Water Research 30(4):
843-852
3. Amahmid, O. and Bouhoum, K. 1999. Health effect of urban wastewater reuse in
a periurban area in Morocco. Environmental Management and Health 11(3): 263264. Asian Institute of Technology, 1991. Calcutta Wastewater-fed Fish Pond
Systems: Project Identification Mission Report and Preliminary Proposal .
Bangkok, Thailand:
4. Asian Institute of Technology [unpublished report].
5. Bunting, S.W., Edwards, P. and Muir, J.F. 1999. Wasted Opportunities?
Constraints to Wastewater Aquaculture . Stirling, UK: Institute of Aquaculture
[unpublished report].
6. Edwards, P. 1992. Reuse of Human Waste in Aquaculture, a Technical Review .
7. Washington, USA: UNDP-World Bank Water and Sanitation Progra m.
8. Edwards, P. 1993. Environmental issues in integrated agriculture-aquaculture
and
9. wastewater-fed fish culture. pp. 139 -170. In: Proceeding of a Conference on
Environment and Aquaculture in Developing Countries, Bellagio, Italy,
September 1990 . Manila, Philippines: International Centre for Living Aquatic
Resources Management.
10. Edwards, P. 1996. Wastewater-fed aquaculture systems: status and prospects.
Naga 19(1):33-35.
11. Furedy, C. 1990. Social aspects of human excreta reuse: implications for
aquacultural
12. projects in Asia. pp. 251 -266. In: Proceedings of the International Seminar on
astewater
13. Reclamation and Reuse for Aquaculture. Calcutta, December 1988. Bangkok,
Thailand:
14. Asian Institute of Technology, Environment Sanitation Information Center
15. Ghosh, D. and Sen, S. 1987. Ecological history of Calcuttas wetland conversion.
16. Environmental Conservation 14.

39

17. Institute of Wetland Management and Ecological Design, 1986. Growing


Vegetables on Garbage: A Village-Based Experience of City Waste Recycling .
Calcutta, India: Institute of Wetland Management and Ecological Design
[unpublished report].
18. Kundu, N. 1989. Urban - development and public policy: east Calcutta
experience.
19. Nagarlok 21(2): 47-60.
20. Kundu, N. 1994. Planning the Metropolis , a Public Policy Perspective. Calcutta,
India:
21. Minerva Associates Ltd.
22. Lagoon Technology International, 1993. Calcutta Wastewater-fed Fish Pond
System:
23. Pre-Appraisal Mission Report. Leeds, UK: Lagoon Technology International
(unpublishedreport].
24. Little, D. and Muir, J. 1987. A Guide to Integrated Warm Water Aquaculture.
Stirling,
25. Scotland: Institute of Aquaculture, Universit y of Stirling.
26. Little, D.C., Surintaraseree, P. and Innes -Taylor, N. 1996. Fish culture in rainfed
rice fields of northest Thailand. Aquaculture 140.
27. Nunan, F. 2000. Waste recycling through urban farming in Hubli -Dharwad.
Urban
28. Agriculture Magazine 1(2 ).
29. Okun D.A. 1991. A water and sanitation strategy for the developing world.
Environment
30. Olah, J., Sharangi, N. and Datta, N.C. 1986. City sewage fish ponds in Hungary
and
31. India. Aquaculture 54.
32. Edward H. Clarke, Multipart Pricing of Public Goods, Springer Publishers,
Netherlands, September, 1971
33. Edna Loehman and Andrews Whinston, A New Theory of Pricing and Decision
Making for Public Investment, Rand Corporation, California, US, 1971
34. Ted Berstorm and Robert Goodman, Private Demands for Public Goods,
Economics Working Paper series, Department of Economics, University of
California, June 1973)
35. Dwight R. Lee, A Note on the Efficient Pricing of Public Goods, Public Finance
Review, 1978

40

36. Gerard Marwell and Ruth E. Ames, Experiments on the Provisions of Public
Good. II. Provision Points, Stakes, Experience and the Free-Rider Problem,
University of Chicago Press, US, 1980
37. Robert Cameron, Mitchell Richard, T. Carson, Using surveys to value Public
Goods: the Contingent Valuation, published by the Johns Hopkins University
Press, Washington DC, 1989.
38. Peter Abelson, Public Economics published by Mc Graw Hill, February, 2008
39. Sacchidananda Mukherjee, Economic Valuation Of A Wetland In West Bengal,
India
40. Abelson, P., 2001, Lectures in Public Economics, Applied Economics, Sydney
41. Cullis, J. and P.Jones, 1998, Public Finance and Public Choice, Oxford University
Press, Oxford.
42. Luke M. Brander, Raymond J. G. M. Florax and Jan E. Vermaat, The Emperics Of
Wetland Valuation: A comprehensive Summary and a Meta-Analysis of the
Literature, Springer Publishers, Netherlands, 2006
Websites:
www.jstor.org,www.online.sagepub.com,
www.appliedeconomics.com.au/people/-, www.rje.org www.ekwma.com

41

Annexure 1
Keynote Address by Asim Barman, IAS (Retd.) National Conference
On Wetlands Organized By ICAR, CIFRI & SAFE, March 02, 2014,
CIFRI, Barrackpore.

42

Asim Barman, IAS (Retd.)

CL -35, Sector II, Saltlake City, Kolkata 700091


Advisor, Policy and Strategy Research, Kolkata Commons.


Respected President, distinguished guests and participants, it is my proud privilege to be here amongst you this
afternoon. On a personal note, I am feeling nostalgic standing on this dias. I had the fortune of visiting this great
institute many a time in mid eighties. As the Director of Fisheries, WB, I was overawed by the cutting edge researches of
CIFRI that went a long way in producing fish seed through various innovative techniques. Not only that, CIFRI was also
instrumental in developing numerous scientific methods in aquaculture. It also helped the fish farmers in cultivating
scientific temper in augmentation of fish production.
I took the liberty of dwelling on the issues, as psiciculture is integral to the core wetland management. As you all know
so well, wetland does not simply mean a water body. Every wetland has a historical perspective. That has to be studied
and appreciated before we could venture on participating in wetland management.
Wetland, being a highly ecologically sensitive phenomenon, each one, I feel, are unique in their own way. Biological
Diversities, Natural Resource Regime, Livelihood, GHG footprints, so on and on, there are so many aspects those count
for the uniqueness of each wetland.
It is thus quite evident that a lot of factors and actors are involved in the process of wetlands management.
I find myself fortunate enough that I had the opportunity to get my share of experience in Fisheries, Municipal Affairs
and in Environment. I am privileged to share with you that my association with east Kolkata wetlands goes back to
1980s.As Director of fisheries, I enthusiastically used to visit the wetlands quite often along with my officers. Through
such visits I acquired first hand knowledge about the unique characteristics of the wetlands. I got to know that it serves
as the lungs of Kolkata. I had the unique opportunity of visiting the wetlands on a number of occasions during my long
stint as the commissioner, Kolkata Kunicipal Corporation, 1994-2000. I then intensely realised how useful and significant
the wetlands were from the perspectives of Kolkata.
So when as Principal Secretary, Environment, 2004-2006 I got the opportunity of doing something concrete for EKW I
just seized it. I saw to it the EKW Act on conservation and management got passed at the earliest.
You know, I thought, this EKW Act will be something that I would be proud of. I am, I dont doubt, but still, I wonder
what I missed that time, that such an important issue has been reduced to a mere law and order issue. As a part of this
introspection, last year, while Kolkata Commons approached me to guide their study on East Kolkata Wetland:
Planning and Development Needs, I took the initiative, as some of my friends and associate say, I am destined for East
Kolkata Wetland, as my opportunity to review the exercise and to find out what are to be done more in order to achieve
what I started back then in EKW. So I approached the CTO, EKWMA with the idea. Mr. Arijit Banerjee just grabbed it. I
thought to lead the study with all possible technical assistance, so I approached Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra.
They were glad enough to undertake this study under their Ecological Management Model. There were certain other
issues, but however, the study was finally started in June 2013. And I was proved wrong. There was nothing quantified.
And where there is enough reason and scopes as well, to be quantified, the production data were age-old, the land-use
classification was not updated, even the demographic data were ridiculously back dated. I dont want to repeat the
issues those have already been discussed; my point is, probably this is the high time, if we are not already late enough,
we need to admit, before talking about awareness, preparedness etcetra, of the community, we, those who love to feel
ourselves important and responsible, need to aware ourselves, need to prepare ourselves. Probably this ignorance from
our part explains, why the EKW couldnt find its place in the National Wetland Atlas or why East Kolkata Wetland is
getting prevented from having waste water. Not that, I dont find these things surprising, sometime shocking! I am just
saying lets have ourselves corrected, otherwise only complaining wont serve the purpose much.
I have come across, certain views towards Wetland Management, more particularly towards East Kolkata Wetland
Management. One that advocates that, wetlands should be left as such, I find a bit problematic mainly for two reasons.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON WETLANDS ORGANIZED BY ICAR, CIFRI & SAFE, March 02, 2014, CIFRI, Barrackpore,
Keynote Address

Asim Barman, IAS (Retd.)

CL -35, Sector II, Saltlake City, Kolkata 700091


Advisor, Policy and Strategy Research, Kolkata Commons.


One, within a market discourse, how you plan to avoid interacting with market! And if you are interacting, you have to
have certain tools that enables you to face the market in your terms. And as long as there are people residing within the
designated wetland how can you deny their rights. And I personally find it more beneficial for the wetlands, to
incentivise the local community instead of penalizing them! I have come to know about the Biorights initiative of SAFE,
their Micro-insurance venture, you may argue about different aspects of those but I cant stop appreciating these
innovative initiatives.
I believe, the doctrine of sustainable development denies both the views towards the Wetland Management. You cant
leave it to market, and that is an emphatic No. Neither you can deny that only the community is the guardian of this
special Ecosystem, and you need to be supremely attentive and careful about their justified development and livelihood
needs. So you cant leave this wetland and the community as it is.
The sustainable development with specific riders on ecology and biodiversity should be the guiding principle while
developing strategies for mitigation and adaptation in wetland management. The participation of the local community
should be at the core of strategies to be adopted. Development of appropriate tools and implementation of pilot
projects is a must to carry any adaptation or mitigation forward. Sensitizing all the stakeholders must be meticulously
planed and executed. The local community has to play the leading role in these initiatives. Thus specific training and
awareness programme have to be developed for them. Funding for these activities has to be such that there is no string
attached to it.
The training methodology of the local community could be developed on a three tiers system. Firstly the resource
persons should be developed. The resource persons will develop master trainers who in turn will impart lessons to the
volunteer trainers or simply volunteers. Participatory observation techniques should be extensively used while
grounding the training methodology.
Application of new technologies, be it software tools or human resource development techniques, latest production or
productivity inventions and application of GIS are of paramount importance while thinking of piloting any project.
One should not forget about the culture and the traditions of the local community. While their cultural identities have to
be preserved, nothing should stand in the way of developing scientific aptitudes. Cutting edge researches have all over
the world paved the way for many unprecedented activities in the welfare of the societies. Clean and green area is an
area where we find plethora of activities, be it solar power development or the shale gas reserves and extraction
thereof.
Since each wetland is generally unique in its features it may not be possible to replicate the experiment in its entirety.
But the basic policy matrix may remain the same.
We have already spoken of sensitization of the stakeholders. The stakeholders would comprise of Government servants
of various line departments, the elected local representative and volunteers of NGOs working in the areas. Sensitizing
them will pose huge challenges. They have to be sensitized in such a manner that ensure their willing participation in the
envisaged programme including pilot projects.
In many situations it may involve a paradigm shift on policy matrix. So any intervention has to be well researched and
well planned. It requires total commitment and dedication on the part of those who will be work in the areas. There
motivation will assume significant proportions as we go along.
There is always conflict between the needs of local community and what the resources can provide them. The
need assessment has to be carefully done. While undertaking the need assessment survey it has to be clearly spelt out
that all their needs may not necessarily be met out of the local resources. The decision finally has to be taken by making
a balance between these two factors.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON WETLANDS ORGANIZED BY ICAR, CIFRI & SAFE, March 02, 2014, CIFRI, Barrackpore,
Keynote Address

Asim Barman, IAS (Retd.)

CL -35, Sector II, Saltlake City, Kolkata 700091


Advisor, Policy and Strategy Research, Kolkata Commons.


What is really required is an integrated model encompassing all activities. It calls for convergence of resources.
Actually during the preparation of the EKW Act, I personally looked at this convergence requirement. This was one of the
reason behind dag number wise land use classification. My idea was to define the zones like,
Core: This is a no construction zone.
Buffer: Regulated Construction Zone to shield the core.
Fringe: Regulated Construction Zone to serve as a market interface for natural resource based regional livelihood
development management schemes.
On the contrary, I am constrained to say that there has been general decadence in terms waste recovery system. There
has been notable shrinkage of wetlands. Both productivity and production of fish and agriculture over the years have
gone down.
There is no upward trend of the no. of persons living in the areas. In fact if carefully and meticulously studied one may
find a negative growth curve. In the mid eighties I found many outsiders used to work there to earn their livelihood. That
is no more the case today. In fact there may be some cases of migration of local inhabitants propelled by the dwindling
resource base.
In the absence appropriate policy interventions, there has been a feeling of alienation amongst some sections of the
society. Many of them find themselves deprived of having access to the various ongoing Govt schemes. The general
perception, it seems, is that nothing tangible has happened after the introduction of the Act in question.
A lot of issues is required to be addressed on urgent basis. The Central Wetland Regulatory Authority has to be
persuaded to withdraw its notification on discharge of municipal sewage in Ramsar designated wetlands. The existence
of EKW solely depends on the discharge of sewage by KMC. I am confident that the authority will see the rationale
behind such discharge and will take appropriate actions to save the wetlands.
I feel that the zoning concept demarcating the wetlands into core, buffer and fringe areas may be considered for the
sustainable development of the area keeping its environmental sensitivity in mind. An integrated model with
convergence all available resources is to designed with local community in the forefront. The assistance of the STRP of
Ramsar may be sought for in environmental impact assessment and zoning of the site.
All of us should strive for the assistance of the Planning Commission in terms its National Missions as envisaged in the
12th plan.
DG, ICAR is here with us today. May I request him to take up the cause of EKW with the Planning Commission. Since
both agriculture and fisheries research fall under his domain we will be very happy to see his personal interventions in
carrying out cutting edge researches in both the sectors in EKW. As I have already mentioned the application of new
technologies in the region will certainly change the face of the area with thousands of people smiling.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON WETLANDS ORGANIZED BY ICAR, CIFRI & SAFE, March 02, 2014, CIFRI, Barrackpore,
Keynote Address

Annexure 2
Calcutta High Court Verdict 1992

46

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1)CLJ

1993(1) CLJ

105

People United for better living v. State of W.B.


[CONSTITUTIONAL WRIT JURISDICTION]
Before Mr. Justice Umesh Chandra Banerjee
Decision : September 24, 1992

People United for Better Living in Calcutta,


Public & Anr.
Versus
State of West Bengal & Others.

Petitioner
Respondents

Ecology and Environmental Problem Social Problem Duty of the Law Courts
Developmental programme of Government World Trade Centre Striking balance
between development and ecology Reclamation of wetland in eastern part of the
metropolis Value of wetland.
In the name of People United for Better Living in Calcutta Public and another
instituted a writ petition against the State of West Bengal challenging the attempt of the
State Govt. to reclaim the wetlands on the eastern side of the Calcutta metropolis for
proposed World Trade Centre to promote trading activities not only of Calcutta but also
of the country as a whole. In support of the writ petition it has been contended on behalf
of the petitioners that the proposed World Trade Centre will be another shopping plaza or
a commercial complex. The proposal for establishing a World Trade Centre is not a
Government proposal but a private entrepreneurs proposal for private gain and as such,
the Law Courts would not be justified in granting such a proposal for private gain at the
cost of the society at large. It is contended that preservation of wetlands in this part of the
city is necessary for the protection of environment and there should be a balance between
development process and protection of environment. The contention of the State
Government in this respect, on the other hand is that the proposed World Trade Centre in
Salt Lake would not only ensure benefit for the trading activities of the metropolis but
will enhance the trading activities of the country as a whole. It is to promote
International trade by providing all facilities under one roof. It is further contended that
setting up of a World Trade Centre has become all the more necessary now with the
globalization of the economy and the World Trade Centre would help push export which
is a national objective, that this itself in turn would create additional demand for goods
and services leading to an increase in production and expansion of service facilities which
would consequently result in generation of more employment. The State Govt. is
desirous of establishing a World Trade Centre because it will create employment for the
people
of
the
State
and
ensure
their
welfare.

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

106

The Court allowing the writ petition.


HELD ; The issue of environmental degradation cannot but be termed to be a
social problem and considering the growing awareness and considering the impact
of this problem on the society in regard thereto, Law Courts should also rise upto
the occasion to deal with the situation as it demands in the present day context.
Law Courts have a social duty since it is a part of the society and as such must
always function having due regard to the present day problems which the society
faces. The social problems shall have to be dealt with in the way and in the manner
it calls for since benefit to the society ought to be the prime consideration of the
Law Courts and ecological imbalance being the social problem ought to be decided
by a court of law so that the society may thrive and prosper without any affection.
(Para 29)
While the Law Court ought not to put an embargo to the development project which
is in the offing, it shall have to strike a balance between the development and
ecology.
(Para 37)
The wetland being a bounty of nature do have a significant role to play in the
proper development of the society be it from environmental perspective or from
economic perspective.
(Para 39)
Case referred to :-Calcutta Youth Front & Another v. State of West Bengal & Ors.,
1986(2) Cal LJ 26
Mr. Sudipta Sarkar and Anjan Verma
.for the Petitioner
Mr. N.N.Gupta (Advocate General),
S.C.Ukil and Pobitra Gupta
..for the State
Mr. Apurba Basu

..Added Respondent

The judgment of the Court was as follows :Population growth and modern technological developments by themselves
pose a great threat to the very existence of living and non-living organisms-this is
not confined to a particular region, but it has crossed trans-national frontiers. In
1972 the Stockholm Conference Under the auspices of the United Nations did
deliberate upon the issues of protection of human environment. The Habitat
Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1976 and the World Water Conference
at Argentina in 1977 recorded a detailed discussion as regards the water pollution.
It is not out of place to mention that water pollution along with the pollution in the
air and the noise pollution are in a much higher degree in the metropolitan centres
than in the rural sectors and as such population influx and technological
developments can be ascribed to be

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the two basic factors for such environmental degradation. The National
Environmental Engineering Research Institute has confirmed that levels of sulpherdioxide and other particulate matters in big cities have exceeded the permissible
limits as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
2.
While it is true that in a developing country there shall have to be
developments, but that development shall have to be in closest possible harmony
with the environment, as otherwise there would be development but no
environment, which would result in total devastation, though, however, may not be
felt in present but at some future point of time, but then it would be too late in the
day, however, to control and improve the environment. Nature will not tolerate us
after a certain degree of its destruction and it will in any event, have its toll on the
lives of the people: Can the present day society afford to have such a state and allow
the nature to have its toll in future the answer shall have to be in the negative: The
present day society has a responsibility towards the posterity for their proper growth
and development so as to allow the posterity to breathe normally and live in a
cleaner environment and have a consequent fuller development: Time has now
come therefore, to check and control the degradation of the environment and since
the Law Courts also have a duty towards the society for its proper growth and
further development, it is a plain exercise of the judicial power to see that there is
no such degradation of the society and there ought not to be any hesitation in regard
thereto-but does that mean an imply stoppage of every developmental programmethe answer is again no: There shall have to be a proper balance between the
development and the environment so that both can co-exist without affecting the
other. On the wake of the 21st century, in my view, it is neither feasible nor
practicable to have a negative approach to the development process of the country
or of the society, but that does not mean, without any consideration for the
environment. As noted above, there should be a proper balance between the
protection of the environment and the development process: The society shall have
to prosper, but not at the cost of the environment and in the similar vein, the
environment shall have to be protected but not at the cost of the development of the
society-there shall have to be both development and proper environment and as
such, a balance has to be found out and administrative actions ought to proceed in
accordance therewith and not dhors the same.
3.
Erroneously at times pollution is equated with environment. In fact,
pollution is one of the aspects of environment and the expression environment has
to be viewed with all its components and considered in its totality. There are indeed
a wide range of physical, biological and man-made component that interact in
building up an environment. This

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has made the subject complex and a matter for multi-disciplinary study. Environmental
conditions get substantially influenced by local factors; factors like regular recurrence of
natural calamities, i.e., floods, draught, land subsidence and the like of features like
intensives, explosion of natural resources, e.g., mining, deforestation or a highly effective
health phenomenon in the form of predominance of an endemic disease or a typical socio
economic condition engulfing a large percentage of local population all exert profound
influences of different nature and dimensions on the environment that revolve in a
particular area. The intensity of the major factor determines the essential character of the
environment under such circumstances. In depth studies of such problem areas reveal
interesting features exposing intricate linkages between environmental conditions and the
pattern of human behaviour and response. Some possible solution towards meeting the
challenges of nature may also be struck which, if adopted, may bring a significant change
for the better.
4.
Turning attention now on to the present writ petition, it appears that the entire
thrust of challenge in the petition is in regard to the maintenance of wetlands in the
eastern fringe of the city of Calcutta but what is this wetland ? The Water Board of the
New South Wales Government, Australia in its Secondary Poster 2 Protecting our
Wetlands records the following :
Wetlands often called bogs, swamps, marshes, billabongs and a host of other
names, are areas of wetland. The amount of water in them varies depending on the
weather and the time of year. Sometimes they can be quite dry. Special plants, such as
seeds, grow in wetland areas. Wetlands also provide a home for a host of different
wildlife ranging from migratory and local birds to fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects.
All these living things depend on wetlands for their existence.
Estuarine wetlands are found where rivers start to join the sea. Their water is
brackish (a mixture of salt and fresh water) and it rises and falls along with the tide.
Mangroves grow in estuarine wetlands.
Billabongs are old river beds that are left when the river takes a different
direction. When the new river floods of there is a heavy rain, the billabongs fill with
water.
Marshes and swamps can be found in many places. They are shallow, low laying
areas of ground filled with reeds and wild life.
The Secondary Poster also records:
Each wetland functions as an ecosystem, i.e., a system where all the parts (land,
plants, animals, water, solar energy) depend on each other. If one part of the system, the
amount of sunlight for

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instance, is changed, all the other parts will be affected too. Often change to one
element of an ecosystem results in the destruction of the whole.
Not only are the wetlands fragile ecosystems in themselves, but they form a vital
part of the worlds ecosystem as well.
Wetlands rely on established water drainage pattern. Any population nearby, with
its paved streets, gardens, storm water wastes etc. inevitably alters water drainage pattern
and affects the wetland.
We need to take steps to prevent destruction of our wetlands.
5.
The poster noted above also record the importance of wetlands as follows :Even though many people never notice wetlands, they play a very important part in our
lives.
Wetlands provide a haven for vast numbers of living creatures which rely on them
for food, shelter and as a breeding place. While they may not live permanently in the
area, huge numbers of birds, animals, reptiles, fish, amphibians and insects regularly visit
and use wetlands. Disappearance of wetlands threatens their very existence.
Migratory birds, some from as far away as Siberia and Japan, travel to Australian
wetlands every years to escape the cold winter. Many of these migratory birds are rare
and endangered species.
Many kinds of fish hatch and grow to maturity in the safety of the wetland
mangrove swamps. When they are adults they move into the ocean. Most of the fish we
eat depend on these mangrove nurseries for hatching their young and for the survival of
the species.
Many species of plants survive only in the special environment of the wetlands.
Loss of wetlands threatens their survival.
Wetlands play and important rose in the water cycle, cleaning and purifying water
as it passes through them. They can also help control flood water by stopping and
releasing it slowly through the ground.
There is growing evidence that wetlands are a vital link in the food chain,
processing food for some species, and also play a part in nitrogen fixing, a process
which alters nitrogen to a form where it can be used by living creatures.
Wetlands are also important for people, as areas where environmental scientists
can learn more about or total environment, and as areas for relaxation where people can
enjoy canoeing, fishing, picnics, photography, walking, bird watching and sometimes,
just sitting in a quiet and beautiful place.

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6.
The New South Wales Water Board, as appears from relevant statistics
look after around 500 wetland areas. As part of the Special Environment Programme,
scientists and wetlands specialists are working to rebuild wetlands that have been
damaged and to protect wetlands in the future. The Water Board is teaching people ways
and means to protect the wetlands.
7.
It is to be noted that the American environmentalists also in their turn are
making frantic efforts so as to maintain American wetlands system. It has been calculated
in the United States that one acre of wetlands is worth tens of thousands of U.S. Dollars
for the services it renders. According to the American environmentalists, the following
can be ascribed to be the contribution of the wetlands :(i)
Wetlands act as water purifier ;
(ii)
They help maintain surface moisture ;
(iii) They help curb soil erosion ;
(iv)
They lessen the impact of both floods as well as droughts ;
(v)
They contribute pure water to wells ;
(vi)
They preserve the wildlife ; and
(vii) They support the fishing industry.
8.
History records that the American city of Grand Fox had extensive
wetlands, but people chose to do away with them for commercially more lucrative option
the end result being that there were 8 floods in 30 years which should have come once
otherwise in 80 to 100 years. The Mayor of Grand Fox is now making an all-out effort to
convince and impress upon the farmers to convert their fields into wetlands even by
compensating them lucratively as it will be cheaper than tackling the repeated floods.
9.
Wetlands being an unseen storehouse of natures bounty and a gift of
nature to mankind act as regulators and reservoirs for rivers. The marshes slow down the
speed of the water flowing from the streams to the rivers these delay gives the river
much required time to adjust to the various types: but with the removal of the wetlands
the water from the streams will start flowing faster on to the rivers and the rivers, not
being able to adjust, will flood the surrounding areas. The American environmentalists
have assessed on the basis of economic data that about 13 millions water fowls depend on
the wetlands of the state of Alaska alone for their survival and about 5 million dollars
worth of Salmond fish come from these wetlands.
10. Kerry Turner in his article Economics and Wetland Management published by
the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences stated that wetland ecosystems are among the
most threatened of all environmental

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resources. The over-utilisation of the total wetlands stock has been the result of a
combination of economic development pressure, information failure and market and
intervention failure. There is an urgent need for a balance to be struck between wetland
conservation, sustainable utilization and wetland conversion Sustainable utilization and
the maintenance of a sustainable flow of income derived from the wetland stock is the
key issue for developing economics. Economic valuation of the multi functional wetland
resources is required, principles and methods used in the assessment of temperate
wetlands in developed countries can aid the analysis of tropical wetlands in developing
countries.
11.
Turner also notes that development projects have often stimulated wetland
conversion largely because of information failure planners just did not realise how
important some wetlands were for sustainable development. Nevertheless, there is a
growing awareness that most wetlands are more valuable economic resources when
retained in their natural or semi natural state. Conversion or degradation of such natural
capital assets will therefore, often not represent an increase in resource use efficiency .
Social efficiency in wetland use is connected to the fact that wetlands are multifunctional
resources and that, under heavy utilisation pressure, some of the multiple uses conflict
with each other. The inefficiency is not a consequence of the multiple-use conflict itself,
but of the fact that not all the uses are properly evaluated and accounted for.
12
Goodland and Ledec in a published paper Wildlands; Balancing
Conversion with Conservation In World Bank Project (1989; Environment 31,6 to 11 and
27 to 35) have remarked that until two or three decades ago a large proportion of the
worlds wildlands including wetlands were protected by their remoteness, their vastness
and their marginal direct usefulness for agriculture or other economic activities. The last
30 years or so, however, have witnessed rapid conversions of wetlands in all developing
economics.. The author pointed out that the over-utilisation of the total wetland has been
the result of a combination of factors. Given the special location of the majority of
wetlands, i.e. along rivers on coasts and on level terrain, often with inherently fertile
soils, multiple-use pressure is inevitable as the economic development process gathers
pace. All these factors combine to make such sites attractive for a diverse range of
competing economic activities. In this sense, the natural use conflicts that arise can be
considered to be in some sense almost inevitable. This situation need not be viewed
negatively in the sense of a straightforward conservation versus Development conflict.
Further, a balanced approach is required in which many wetlands will be utilised for
commercial output (timber, livestock, fodder, fish etc.) under a sustainable management
programme on a water basin - wide level.

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It is stated that wetlands have been lost inadvertently because of policy interventions
which have been badly coordinated or poorly designed.
13.
As earlier noted the population influx and modern technological
development have been identified as the chief culprits to contribute a major share of the
pollution in the cities. But the obsession with the phenomenon of pollution which is
associated with urban and industrial areas make us lose sight of the environmental
conditions of the rural areas where a major percentage of our population leave. In that
view of the matter, environment needs to be protected not only in the urban areas but also
in the rural areas.
14.
Turning attention on to the Calcutta wetlands we find that there are 40
species of algae and 2 species of fern, 7 species of monocods and 21 species dicods.
Latest datas suggest presence of about 155 species of summer birds of which 64 species
are resident birds and 91 are migratory. There are 90 species of winter birds of which 44
are residents and 46 are migratory. These migratory birds are mainly from Siberia and
East Europe and they arrive at the city through Trans-Asia Migration Route. Admittedly,
Calcutta has had around 20,000 acres approximately of wetland area, of which 10,000
acres have already been reclaimed and the sprawling metropolis under the name of Salt
Lake City being a satellite township area of Calcutta exists, and the East Calcutta
Wetlands now therefore comprises of around 9,000 and odd hundred acres approximately
on the eastern fringe of the city with a natural slope from the West to the East. The entire
area comprises of low lands characterised by marshes and ponds etc. as regards the soil,
there is no manner of doubt that it has very high moisture content of a mixed clay and
aluvium type. On the issue of hydrology, the entire waste and drainage (sewer) water of
Calcutta runs through a system of main and ancillary channels going through the
wetlands; these flows are channelised into the sewage-fed fisheries for pisciculture and
the wetlands purify the entire waste water through a natural process of oxidation,
radiation, biological break down of organic wastes and pisciculture. As regards surface
utilisation, wetlands are used for pisciculture, agriculture, garbage, dumping for solid
waste, horticulture on garbage dump. The climate and micro climate of 1983 appears to
be 10 degree centigrade to 40 degree centigrade with a rainfall of average 1605 mm.
15.
On the issue of the characteristics and importance of wetlands and the
impact of wetlands on ecosystem, it has been stated that in this region, 1 square metre of
surface water can produce 23.75 gm. of oxygen per minute after meeting the requirement
of aquatic animals. Average individual human being needs 2.1 gm. oxygen per minute
and per day, therefore, it is 3024 gms. and any loss of wetland, therefore, will have

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tremendous impact on to the living organisms as also human being on the surface. It has
been argued that the role and importance of wetlands in relation to its surrounding cannot
in any way be undermined. It is vital for maintaining micro climatic condition ; absorbing
pollution from air receptacle for rain water and sewage; waste recycling; pisciculture;
habitat for aquatic flora and fauna : proven high biomass density : gainful occupation to
large population supplying low cost fish and vegetation. It was further contended that
within urban limits, water bodies act as detention centers and outside the core area, they
provide the spill basin and any change may lead to floods. It has been suggested that in
the United States of America, detention centers are created to control the passage of
storm water and sewage.
16.
In continuation of his submission in regard to the beneficial role of
Calcutta wetlands, Mr. Sarkar, appearing in support of the application, stressed that
efficient management of the sewage outfall channels with periodic dredging will ensue
adequate waters to save the wetlands. Tidal flows from the mouth of Bidyadhri river do
not reach the backwaters due to siltation. It was further suggested that pisciculture,
horticulture, agriculture from a chain in the recycling of resources and generate essential
nutrients for human consumption. Mr. Sarkar laid stress that acquiring the wetlands for
industrial activity will disrupt the fragile ecosystem and Calcutta will die through
permanent damage to natural sewage system : loss of cheap nutrients : loss of habitat for
flora and fauna : threat to their survival : loss of unique system of natural waste disposal
forcing costlier and environmentally hazardous options : damage Calcuttas micro
climate involving rainfall, humidity, temperature control, oxygen generation : displace
marginal families who depend on primary and secondary occupations on the wetlands.
17. It is on this factual backdrop that the instant matter shall have to be decided by
the Court as to whether further encroachment of 784 acres of Calcuttas wetlands will
lead to such a degradation of environmental conditions so as to have its roll on the
society. Admittedly, as appears from records, Calcuttas wetlands comprised of fishing
ponds popularly known in Bengal parlance as bheris and pisciculture admittedly to a
substantial extent, takes place in that wetland area through which a good number of
people earn their livelihood and it is, therefore, seen that these wetlands remain not only
for the purpose of environment but for the purpose of economic purpose as well.
18.
It is at this juncture, however, the views expressed by A.K. Ghosh, Joint
Director and Incharge, Environmental Monitoring Wing, Zoological Survey of India,
ought to be considered. In his paper on Ecology and Environment of Calcutta published
by the Government of West Bengal, Shri Ghosh on the issue of Problem and Prospects
of Calcuttas Growth in Table 9 recorded the following :-

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

Sl.
No
1.

Parameter

2.

Drainages flood Reclamation


and
urban
cushioning and constructions cause major loss
health
of drainage outfall basins.
Less facilities for disposal of
rainfall excesses ; increasing
health hazards.
Water supplies
Increasing mineralization and
hardness
of
water
;
unpredictable
salinity
in
ground water. Consequent
need to tap and treat Hugli
water.
Sewage
/ Natural Dhapa system being
treatment and lost by reclamation. Calls for
solid
waste very costly treatment plants.
disposal
Gradual loss of garbage
disposal sites as well.
Economic
Rich fish haul as primary
Products
source of protein rapidly
dwindling. Vegetable growing
areas also likely to be usurped
for
urban
construction
ultimately.
Hinterland and Away from the citys
Communication hinterland
increased
freightage and communication
/ traffic problems in core
Calcutta.
Social Factors
Loss of primary sector
livelihood (fisheries, farming,
etc.). Increasing tertiary sector
problems.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Environmental
consideration

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East and South-eastern Northwards Growth


growth
Loss of wetlands ; Increases The wetland eco-systesm
air pollution ; destroys remains intact.
valuable ecosystem and waste
treatment facility.
Wetland facilities in the
eastern metropolitan fringe
can be utilized healthier.

Prolific ground water supplies


major basin; lesser pumping
costs
and
mineralization
problems (only iron removal
called for); safe and potable
for human beings.
Natural facilities retained.
Additional system can be
designed in eastern metro
fringe wetlands.
Fisheries development can be
further strengthened with
State / Panchayat control;
more of vegetable mixed
farming products.
Nearness to hinterland easier
disposal of trans Hugli
facilities
shall
need
strengthening
of
North
communication corridors.
Distance from core will
discourage such speculators.
Cleaner urban development,
better health due

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

8.

Hugli
Controversy

9.

Land

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Control by land speculators


to take over reclaimed land
parcels at the cost of middle
and lower economic classes

lesser drainage congestion and


lesser preventive health costs,
etc. Greater land / water based
employment
in
primary
sector.

Larger extraction of water for


urban
supplies
with
consequent flow reduction
and increased pollution and
salinity; in turn, escalating
cost of treatment.
Only by reclamation at high
cost and degradation of
system.

Trapping Hugli avoidable.


Northwards reach of river less
polluted with lesser tidal
salinity.
Good lands available in
Kalyani-Haringhata
zone.
Dairy to be shifted to east
Calcutta reclaimed zone.

Ghosh in the self-same paper stated :But what is most remarkable is that in spite of 300 years of mostly unplanned
development, the city still shows signs of vibrant life in its biotic components. The city of
Calcutta within its limit exhibits at least 7-10 species of mammals, 200 species of birds,
15 species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians and 40 species of butterflies. But how
long can these elements withstand the onslaught of massive changes ? Comparative
figures of birds species on the Salt Lake before and after reclamation show an alarming
regression rate. The long drawn battle to preserve the remaining habitats (especially in
and around the wetlands of East Calcutta and Brade Bridge) can never provide a long
term solution. The planning authority has to wake up to the need for biological
conservation. Apart from aesthetics, the entire food chain and energy cycle is dependent
on biological component, a large scale disruption of which can only lead to a collapse of
economic fishery and agriculture around the metropolis.
19.
On the basis of the dates as above, there cannot be any manner of doubt
that the Calcutta wetlands presents a unique ecosystem apart from the materialistic
benefit to the society at large. Within the Calcutta Metropolitan are the Calcutta wetlands
can be easily identified as the most outstanding wetland cluster. As already mentioned,
these wetlands bear the oldest tradition in the world of resource recovery from citys
waste besides being the largest of such systems in the world. They

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have now become a subject of international interest. Since the beginning this century,
various forms of agriculture and pisciculture have been practices in the region. These
wetlands are interdistributory marshes lying between the laves of the river Hugly to west
end of the Bidyadhari to the east. The Bidyadhari can now be traced only by its aggraded
bad presently under paddy cultivation. It was a tidal channel and the shallow marshes
acted spill basins. Gradually with diversion of city sewage, premature reclamation by
building embankments for the then existing salt water fisheries and with silting up of the
river, these marshes became stagnant and ceased to be saline (Ghosh & Sen, 1997). Since
then they have become sewage receptacles for the city and with innovative enterprise of
local people they have been used as waste water fisheries producing more than 10
quintals of fish per acre per year for the city. These wetlands also store runoff from the
adjacent areas during the rains and are traversed by the sewage outfall channels of the
city. These channels carry the waste water eastwards to the Kulti river which eventually
falls into the Raimangal which drains into the Bay of Bengal. These wetlands recycle
waste water for efficient nutrient recovery, provide fresh fish to the market of Calcutta
and employ thousands of rural people over an area of about 7,500 acres.
20.
On the basis of the factual backdrop as noted above, it is, therefore, to be
seen as to whether there is any environmental hazard or affectation of the waste recycling
area so as to create problems for this huge metropolis as also for the satellite township in
the eastern fringe of the city of Calcutta. While it is true that there is a tremendous influx
on the urban area, but that does not mean and imply, however, that the urban area shall
have to go on expanding to provide a shelter for everybody whosoever comes to the
urban conglomeration. The city of Calcutta is now witnessing gigantic demon-like multistoried buildings and these demons look large on every street-big or small-posing great
problem to the traffic as also the sewage. The matter, therefore, shall have to be decided
having these facades of the present life of the city pf Calcutta. Satellite township is a
modern phenomenon in this country. Delhi has experienced few years back the same and
so has Bombay and Madras. It is nothing new that this mad rush continues throughout the
country for urban area. But does that mean and imply that the gift of nature to the
humanity shall have to be destroyed does that mean and imply that this unseen
storehouse of natures bounty would have to be exploited to this optimum level ? In my
view, answer cannot but be in the negative. It is not out of place to record that this
concern for environment is of recent origin, but as time progresses, as the society
develops, the right-thinking people of the society would come forward to impress upon
the people that this bounty of nature ought not to be

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wasted any longer but that does not however mean that we will have at present continue
with malutilisation of the natures bounty. I must record here that the Government is also
not lagging behind and in this State, legislations are in the offing, as has been stated by
Mr. Advocate-General appearing for the State-Respondents as to prohibit any farther
change in the land-use map of the State. The Town and Country Planning Act has already
been engrafted in the Statute Book and the experts are on their toes for the purpose of
bringing in a healthy atmosphere so as to educate the common people the need for
protection of the environment by preservation of the wetlands.
21.
Let us now analyse, however, the defense set up by the State-Respondents.
It was contended that the history of Salt Lake clearly indicates that the scheme of things
now visible in Sale Lake development was conceived in the 19th century itself but could
not be brought to the state of implementation due to paucity of funds. The ecological and
environmental parameters where unperceived issues at that time-keeping a portion of the
area under Salt Lakes reserved for fisheries and perhaps for wetlands was also a
common feature in all Salt Lake Development Plans that appeared in the scene in the
form State initiative form time. By the time the slogan Save Wetlands was raised, it was
argued, 3000 acres of northern Salt Lake had already been developed by early 1980, and
after pruning the original plan, only 784 acres more were to be essentially developed now
for which little over 900 acres are to be acquired for completing the programme. The
development of these 784 acres contiguous to sectors 4 and 5 is now a fait accompli. It
was further submitted that these attempt to develop additional 784 acres is only to
optimize the use of infrastructure already created in sectors 4 and 5 and is a historical
reality that cannot just be written off. The Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, now almost an
arterial road to the city itself, can not be abandoned. The infrastructure created for the
electronic complex that has already generated employment are the rate of 150 persons per
acre, as compared to 1 to 2 persons per acre by the bheris, cannot be wasted and the 33
KVA power sub-station installed at Sector-5 with a capacity to meet potential demands of
industrial units in the area cannot just be shut off. The contemplated cooperative housing
complex facilities in these sectors for the middle income group of people cannot perhaps
be given up the larger social interest the above is an extract from a paper presented at a
seminar on Land Development and Environmental Issues in the Calcutta Metropolitan
Area held on 19th July, 1990 at the Calcutta Information Centre, Calcutta and prepared by
the Institute of Local Government and Urban States ; Local Government and Urban
Development Department of Metropolitan Development Department, Government of
West Bengal and Mr. Advocate-General laid very great emphasis thereon. Certain
questions were

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raised in the paper itself, the same being : What is desirable relationship between
population and areas to be preserved as wetlands- what happens to the cities that do not
have wetland in their environment. In such a situation it is recommended that agricultural
lands be converted into wetlands? The paper itself records further that host of question
like these are waiting for answers.
22. While it is true that the perceptible mind may seek answers to the questions raised
above, but it is for the environmentalist and the Government to answer these questions
themselves and to ascertain whether to maintain the proper environment, there should be
conversion of agricultural land into wetlands or not but the problem posed here is not
whether there should be such a conversion, but whether one should try to develop and
reclaim an already existing advantageous system being a bounty of nature available to
the city. In order to appreciate that , the further contention of the State-Respondents ought
to be noted. It has been stated that the area in question contiguous to Sectors 4 and 5
contains three bheris, viz., Nalban bheri consisting of 413 acres , Chinta Singh Bhery
consisting of 188 acres and also Munshir Bhery consisting of 183 acres i.e. a total area of
784 acres. The 4th one viz., Mollar Bhery which is stated to be consisting of 121 acres is
to be used for a different purpose- it will be dug deeper and the earth thus available will
be used for developing the three bheries named above and the final use of Mollar Bhery
would be garbage dumping ground and land acquisition proceedings . In respect of theses
bheries are at different stages of composition. Mr. Advocate General laid stress on the
factual score that the Government has already taken possession of Chinta Singh Bhery
and Mollar Bhery and the Nalban Bhery is under the custody of the District Magistrate
,South 24 parganas and it being temporary used by the Directorate of Fisheries, though,
however, possession of Munshir Bhery has been stayed by a Court order. It has further
been stated that the entire 784 acres proposed to be developed are not exclusively used
for wetlands now. Chinta Singh Bhery and Mollar Bhery are now being temporarily used
for raising agricultural crops and in respect of Nalban Bhery, possibility of relocation
may be explored further east of its present location. The state respondents further
contended that the contention of the writ petitioners in regard to the loss of employment
opportunities is conceived whereas the average employment generated by the bheries is
only 1 to 2 persons par acre as compared to already achieved 150 persons per acre in the
industries located to the electronic complex of the Salt Lake. According to the State
Respondents, as a very liberal estimate , around 700 persons may at best be displaced
from employment due to proposed development, of which 500 persons may be
rehabilitated in the proposed alternative site for Nalban Bhery and the rest may be

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

119

absorbed in the industries that would come up in the area after the proposed development
is completed. As regards ecological and environmental parameters, it has been stated that
the desirable relationship between the developed areas and wetlands, which need
different geo-hydrological considerations; has not yet been recommended by the experts
and as such , a question may be asked as to whether development of 3,784 acres of Salt
Lake with existing 3000 acres and proposed 784 acres (out of the total wetland in this
area) can be termed to be a threat to environment and ecological balance. Mr. Advocate
General submitted that as a rough and ready norm , the ratio between developed land and
wetland should be 7:3 which in any case will perhaps be maintained in the area. Mr.
Advocate General submitted that the Government is much more concerned than the writ
petitioner because ecological and environmental issues are as important for the mankind
as development of Calcutta itself. As regards sewage fed fisheries , it was contended that
by no stretch the entire wetland is required for the same and after the proposed
development of 784 acres, the available wetland will be many times more than the
requirement of such sewage fed fisheries. Therefore, this cannot be termed to be an issue
in the present context. As regards the loss of large quantities of fish grown in the bheries ,
Mr. Advocate General strongly submitted that one cannot but to accept the necessary evil
associated with urbanization. It was contended that there is hardly a city that grows or
expands without encroaching upon farm lands. Here, however , the question is not as
simple as the city losing a portion of its fish and vegetable supply from its backyards, but
it is a question of social and economic cost benefit involving much larger and intricate
issues. Incidentally , it was contended that from 20,000 acres the Calcuttas wetlands
gradually shrank to 10,000 acres out of private initiative only and private initiative are
now much more stronger than before. The rate of conversion of wetland into residential
area, particularly in the southern Salt Lake has attained an unprecedented high, in the
wake of which , in the Salt Lake area where land filing is progressing quite faster from
west to east , conversed by individuals and promoters are evident also in the northern Salt
Lake. The total area of wetlands, as it stands now, is not precisely known, but it can only
be conjectured that the area is now much less than 10,000 acres.
23. Incidentally it is placed on record that after this matter was moved to obtain a
first-hand view in this matter, this Court visited these wetlands areas on two different
occasions. The fishing ponds or the bheries are well defined and identified. There are
small patches of marshy lands as well and some swamps and small ponds, but the bheries
are well defined and each one of them is known by a name. As far as this Court has been
able to ascertain , in the eastern fringe of the city of Calcutta, the following bheries or
fishing ponds function regularly:-

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

Name of Bheries
No.
1. Chinta Singh Bheri
..
2. Sardar Bheri
..
3. Nator Bheri
..
4. Nalbagan Bheri No. I
5. Nalbagan Bheri No. II
6. Nalbagan Bheri No. III
7. Nalbagan Bheri No. IV
..
8. Munshir Bheri
..
9. Mollar Bheri
..
10. Narkeltolla Bheri
..
11. Patravad Bheri No. I
12. Patravad Bheri No. II
13. Patravad Bheri No. III
14. Patravad Bheri No. IV
.
15. Sahebmara Bheri
.
16. Baro Paresh Bheri
.
17. Choto Paresh Bheri

18. Goltolla Bheri


..
19. Barochaulari Bheri
.
20. Chotochaulari Bheri
.
21. Jhagra Sish Bheri
..
22. Gompotta Bheri
..
23. Uttor Gorumara Bheri

24. Durga Bhasan Bheri


(now under cultivation)
..
25. Heda Bheri
(under cultivation and fishery)
26. Chaker Bheri
.
27. Gopeshwar Bheri

28. Chacharia Bheri


29. Hona Khali Bheri
(both under cultivation and fishery)
30. Har Hara Bheri No. I
31. Har Hara Bheri No. II
32. Har Hara Bheri No. III
33. Har Hara Bheri No. IV
34. Har Hara Bheri No. V
.
35. Rani Jheel Bheri
.
36. Diller Bheri
.
37. Darir Bheri
.
38. Ban Bheri
.
39. Garumara Bheri
.

1993(1) CLJ

Area in Acres
185.59
165.06
175.90

630.02
171.13
135.90
187.50

328.50
363.69
244.37
92.31
105.58
67.66
57.22
154.01
125.37
142.14
240.82
67.45
84.46
(could not be ascertained)
do

54.92
------42.44
36.55
43.67
97.36

120

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

121

24.
Before proceeding further, however, it is to be noted that India is contracting
party to the Ramsar Convention, an Inter-Governmental Treaty on Wetlands under
which she is obliged to promote the conservation of wetlands habitat in her territory. The
Salt Lake Swamp is acknowledged as an important wetland by virtue of its socioeconomic and ecological values. As a matter of fact, it is in the Directory of Asian
Wetlands and a Wetland of international importance, it meets all accepted criteria for
identification of an internationally important wetland. At this juncture, however, the
observation of Dr. Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, the former director, the Institute of Wetland
Management and Ecological Design, Calcutta, in regard to the Wetland uses ought to be
noted. In his paper Management of Urban and Peri-Urban Wetlands A rapid appraisal
programme for fragile areas stated that the The wetlands are always evaluated from an
anthropocentric approach. Therefore opportunities provided by the wetlands to the
human beings are measures for their evaluation. These opportunities may be both direct
and indirect. The usefulness of a wetland can be determined from the point of view of
flora and fauna it sustains, its ecosystem values, and contribution of wetlands for
maintaining global air and water cycles (Mitsch & Gosselink, 1986). The populations
which are benefited from or thrive on wetlands range from man, animal, waterfowl, fish,
plant to a host of other micro-organisms. Wetlands are used by man for a multitude of
need from food to disposal of waste. One can cite a long list of uses which man gets
from wetlands both directly and indirectly. Wetland animals and birds provide food, fur,
skin and other items. Plants provide food, shelter, timber, medicine and a host of other
non-edible uses. Wetlands are habitat for endangered and rare species of birds and
animals. Wetland ecosystem is especially important for migratory birds and waders.
They are habitats for different endemic, relict, regional varieties of subspecies plants,
insects and other invertebrates and wildlife even in otherwise congested industrial region
(Mitsch & Gosselink, 1986).
25. When considered as an ecosystem, the wetlands are useful for nutrient recovery
and cycling, releasing excess nitrogen, inactivation of phosphates, removing toxins,
chemicals, heavy metals through absorption by plants and also in treating wastewater.
Removal of suspended solids from flowing water by reducing the flow also benefits the
retention of water for sometime whereby biological, physical and chemical changes are
made possible (Mitsch & Gosselink, 1986). Retention of sediments by wetlands also
reduces siltation in the rivers. Wetlands also help in mitigating floods, recharging
aquifers and in reducing surface run off and consequent erosion. Mangrove wetlands on
India and Bangladesh act as buffers against devastating storms of the Bay of Bengal.
Wetlands also

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

122

influence microclimate of a locality. Besides these, they are also valued for their
aesthetic qualities and recreational opportunities. A fresh water wetland checks
underground saltwater intrusion of an adjacent brackish water environment through
interface pressure (US, EPA, 1985).
26. On a global scale the wetlands function significantly in maintaining air and
water quality including nitrogen, sulphur, methane and carbon dioxide cycles.
27. Dr. Ghosh has further expressed a view that the low lying, identified,
multifunctional wetland should not be any further interfered with. But at the same
time positive support may be extended to augment the existing system of aquaculture,
waste recycling, drainage easement and vegetable farming. If this is accepted, the area
can provide economic viable development of primary sector in the urban drainage.
Dr. Ghosh stated that the immediate need of the day, however, is to declare the
Wetlands of East Calcutta, a protected area for conservation and management, before
it becomes too late (ILEE; 1990 June, Volume13 No.1).
28. The opinion expressed by the environmentalists of this country as also of
Australia and America, as noted above, is based mainly on the concept of ecological
imbalance. Global maturity in recent years in regard to this concept is now a practical
reality and not in the realm of consideration or mere ideas- but what does that
expression ecology mean and imply: Ecology in common parlance means the
study of home or the household of nature to be kept in order. George.L.Clarke in his
Elements of Ecology has stated that every living things is surrounded by materials
and forces which constitute its environment and form which it must derive its needs
and contact with the environment is inescapable. In support of the concept of
development, one school of thought, however, considers that industrial expansion
ought not to be deterred on the concept of ecology, it is argued, is simply a price
which has to be paid for industrial development in a developing country. As a matter
of fact, this school of thought firmly believes that ecological imbalance is a cost that
one should be prepared to pay and not a problem at all. The issue arises on the basis
of the aforesaid, however, is for consideration whether on the wake of 21st century
when there is a total global awareness in regard to maintenance of ecological balance,
Law court should be justified in keeping their eyes shut in regard to this concept of
ecological imbalance, if raised before it. Ecological imbalance undoubtedly is a social
problem and in this context observations of this court in (1) Calcutta Youth Front and
Another v State of west Bengal & Ors., 1986 (2) CLJ 26 seem to be rather apposite. In
that decision, this court held ; -

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

123

An ecological problem, in contrast, is a special type of social problem. To


speak of a phenomenon as a social problem is not to suggest merely, or
perhaps at all, that we do not understand how it comes about; it is labeled a
problem not because, like a scientific problem, it presents an obstacle to our
understanding of the world but rather because consider alcoholism, crime,
deaths on the roadwe believe that our society would be better off without
it.
29. There is no manner of doubt that this issue of environmental degradation
cannot but be termed to be a social problem and considering the growing awareness
and considering the impact of this problem on the society in regard thereto, in my
view, Law Courts should also rise upto the occasion to deal with the situation as it
demands in the present day context : Law Courts have a social duty since it is a part
of the society and as such, must always function having due regard to the present day
problems which the society faces. It is now a well-settled principle of law that socioeconomic condition of the country cannot be ignored by a court of law. It is now a
well-settled principle of law that while dealing with the matter, the social problems
shall have to be dealt with in the way and in the manner it calls for, since benefit to
the society ought to be the prime consideration of the Law Courts and ecological
imbalance being a social problem ought to be decided by a court of law so that the
society may thrive and prosper without any affection.
30. Be it noted here that this Court is not trying to denounce the state activities in any
way whatsoever. The state is equally conscious of the ecological problem and has
taken steps for checking environmental degradation and maintaining proper
ecological balance. As a matter of fact, the Calcutta Metropolitan Development
Authoritys Plan for Metropolitan Development between 1990-2015 records that
investment need has already been assessed on various environmental aspects
including regulatory measures for controlling of air, water and noise pollution and
waste recycling areas and resource recovery measures. It also appears from the
Metropolitan Development Plan of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority
that due importance has also been given to drainage and sanitation for the city. The
Metropolitan Development Plan for 1990-2015 expressly records that as a result of
indiscriminate encroachment on the green areas, wetlands and water bodies is taking
place, this tendency should be checked and the development should be properly
controlled and guided. The plan further record as that to promote development in the
desired direction, public intervention is essential and it is necessary to identify land
suitable for expanding the future settlement in a planned and controlled manner. The
plan further proceeds onto record the following :-

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

124

On the basis of preliminary planning studies, the following zonal areas have been
identified for future action :
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I

:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:

Kalyani-Gayespur Zone :
Halisahar-Deulpara-Kanchrapara Zone :
Bhatpara-North Barrackpore Zone :
Barasat-Nabapalli zone :
Chinsurah-Chandernagore Bhadreshwar Zone :
Bally-Dankuni Zone :
West Howrah Zone :
Sankrail-Abada Zone :
Ulberia Zone :

Kalyani-Gayespur Zone is an attractive area for development because there is


necessary civic and service infrastructure. It is possible to get relatively high open
land for development. The Kalyani bridge and the Barrackpore-Kalyani Expressway
have increased the accessibility of the area. There is also a welcome sign of activity in
Kalyani after a long time lag.
Barrackpore Expressway and Kalyani bridge have opened the area of two other
zones, viz., Halisahar-Deulpara-Kanchrapara Zone and Bhatpara-North Barrackpore
Zone. The land along BK Expressway should be properly developed in a planned and
controlled manner.
31. It, therefore, appears that the eastern fringe of Calcutta having the Calcuttas
wetlands is not included in the future development of the CMDAs plan. As a matter
of fact, the CMDA Plan provides that the agricultural land as well as the wetland and
large water bodies should be preserved as such and no change of use of such land
shall be permitted.
32. The above-noted plan, as recorded in the Plan for Metropolitan
Development 1990-2015, in no uncertain terms appreciated the need of the
preservation of the wetlands and as a matter of fact, recorded that no change or use of
such land shall be permitted. CMDA being in charge for prescribing an agenda for
comprehensive development plan during this 15 years period has prescribed such a
prescription for an overall plan for development of the entire metropolis and the same
provides a view of the future comprehensive plan. Can the Law Court, therefore,
proceed on any other basis apart from what is mentioned therein? Mr. Advocate
General, however, submitted that nowhere it has been stated in the CMDAs plan the
total requirement of the wetland that is actually needed for the purpose of maintaining
the ecological balance or for the purpose of maintaining a proper drainage system
with a natural recycling project as is now prevalent in Calcuttas wetlands.
Mr.Advocate General

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

125

contended that the city of Calcutta is to be developed in the manner as is expected of any
big cities and this development is not only a necessity for economic survival but also for
the social need of the society. The tremendous pressure on the city itself cannot but be
met by providing a satellite township so that this influx can be avoided in the city itself.
In a developing country like that of ours, the nature shall have to be taken care of, but to
the extent as is necessary for a healthy society and not beyond that otherwise there would
be a compromise with the development and the society will suffer for not progressing as
is expected.
33. Mr. Advocate-General in regard to the issue of setting up of a World Trade
Centre, contended that the proposed World Trade Centre in Salt Lake would not only
ensure benefit for the trading activities of this metropolis but will enhance the trading
activities of the country as a whole. It is to promote international trade by providing all
facilities under one roof. Mr. Advocate-General submitted that setting up of a World
Trade Centre has become all the more necessary now with the globalization of the
economy and the World Trade Centre would help push export which is a national
objective-it was contended that this itself in turn would create additional demand for
goods and services leading to an increase in production and expansion of service facilities
which would consequently result in generation of more employment. The Government of
West Bengal is desirous of establishing a World Trade Centre because it will create
employment for the people of the state and ensure their welfare.
34. While it is true that the object cannot but be termed to be a laudable one, but
Mr. Debnath, appearing for the Union Of India, in no uncertain terms submitted that out
of the 14 World Trade Centers in the country which are awaiting approval of the Central
Government, Calcuttas World Trade Centre does not find place in such list of pre
approval stage with the Government of India.
35. Mr. Sudipto Sarkar, appearing in support of the writ application, however,
contended that it will be another shopping plaza or a commercial complex and for
erection of a shopping plaza, the question of encroachment on the wetland does not and
cannot arise. Mr. Sarkar submitted that going by the experience of the World Trade
Centresa in the country, it is nothing but a shopping complex. In any event, Mr. Sarkar
submitted that the proposal for the purpose of establishing a World Trade Center is not a
Government proposal but a private entrepreneurs proposal for private gain and as such,
the Law Courts would not be justified in granting such a proposal for private gain at the
cost of the society at large. I am, however, unable to accept the contention of Mr. Sarkar
that World Trade Centre cannot but be termed to be a

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

126

shopping complex. But that as it may, from the written submission of Mr. AdvocateGeneral it appears : The area covered by Chinta Singh bheri is included within the
project area of Northern Salt Lake City Extension Scheme and at present the State
Government has undertaken to develop the said area of 187.44 acres within the said
Chinta Singh Bheri and a proposal for setting up World Trade Centre and permanent
exhibition center with the object of promoting trade and industries and augmentation
of employment opportunities is under active consideration of the State
Government.(Emphasis supplied)
36. Admittedly, therefore, that a proposal for setting up World Trade Centre and
permanent exhibition center is even now under active consideration of the State
Government. The proposal, therefore, has not reached the stage of even the State
Governments approval and as such it can safely be concluded to be in a state of
fluidity. Apart there from the Central Governments approval ought also to be
obtained in the matter of setting up a World Trade Centre and without which no such
Centre can ever be set up. The submission of Mr. Debnath in regard to the Calcuttas
World Trade Centre is also significant. Though, however, there cannot be any manner
of doubt that if the project comes up it would ensure to the benefit of the society at
large, since the same would generate employment and the Law Courts ought not to
put an embargo in such generation but on what basis Law Court will otherwise
permit reclamation of a natures gift to the Calcuttans. There must be some cogent
documentary support on the basis of which the Law Court may come to the
conclusion of there being a likelihood of a World Trade Centre being set up. The
proposal to set up also has not been approved by the State Government itself. It is in
the stage of consideration of the State Government. The formalities are not even
complied with far apart the financial implications therefore.
37. While It is true Law Court ought not put an embargo to the development
project which is in the offling and Law Courts shall have to strike a balance between
the development and ecology and there should be no compromise with each other but
on what basis this striking of balance shall take place- No project report has yet been
prepared, at least not produced before the Court so as to indicate who would share the
burden of such a project neither any documentary evidence in support thereof has
seen the light of the day even if it is a private entrepreneurs proposal there should be
some evidence before the Court on the basis of which the Court can assess and
situation as to whether this balance shall have to be struck between development and
ecology. This Court is completely in the dark as to the area which would be occupied
by this World Trade Centre and the Public Exhibition Centre. This court is also left at
large to guess the availability of finance or who

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

127

would hear the brunt of it this Court has also not been informed as to the potential
employment opportunities-can this Court decide an issue in vacuuo.
38. The Court needs to be told the economic viability of a project: The Court
needs to be told the sources of finance: The Court needs to be told the future of this
project: The Court needs to be told as to who would be responsible for the
maintenance of the same and what would be the financial outcomes therefor-None of
these details have been furnished to this Court. The Court is thus, in a very
handicapped situation to assess the actual state of affairs in regard to the setting up of
the World Trade Centre or the Public Exhibition Centre. It is common knowledge that
both the State and the country are passing through financial stringency- whether the
State can afford to have a World Trade Centre or a Public Exhibition Centre in the
city-that is not known to this Court. In my view, these details ought to have been filed
before the Court so that the Court could have assessed the situation itself, in the
absence of which it is rather difficult to strike the balance as noted above between a
developmental project and the issue of environment. Development there should be
along with environment, but whether in fact, the establishment of World Trade Centre
can be termed to be a developmental Project or not- that will have to be assessed by
the Court and not a mere submission from the Bar to that effect.
39. On the basis aforesaid, there is no manner of doubt, therefore, that wetland
being a bounty of nature do have a significant role to play in the proper development
of the society- be it from environmental perspective or from economic perspective.
Pollution wise this metropolitan city of Calcutta tops the list in the country-can we in
this city further endanger the environment by reclaiming the natures gift to mankind
when, in fact, such a reclamation is only for the purpose of expansion of the satellite
township on the Eastern Fringe of the city of Calcutta. The only developmental
project spoken of is the World Trade Centre along with the Public Exhibition Centre
which is already been dealt with. In this order as above and apart wherefrom no other
developmental project has been spoken of during the course of submission in the
matter. If, however, it is said that the reclamation is not for developmental projects,
then and in that event, I am of the view that question of further consideration of the
matter does not and cannot arise since wetland is precious, wetland ensures to the
benefit of the society at large and wetland assists mankind to live in a cleaner and
purer environment which in my view, one cannot afford to lose neither the Court of
Law can lend assistance to contra-bellof or contra action of a State Agency. Wetland
acts as a benefactor to the society and there cannot be any manner of doubt in regard
thereto and as such encroachment thereof would be detrimental to the society which
the Law Courts cannot permit. This benefit to the society cannot be weighed on
mathematical

People United for Better living v. State of W.B.

1993(1) CLJ

128

nicity so as to take note of the requirement of the society what is required today may
not be a relevant consideration in the immediate future, therefore, it cannot really be
assured to what amount of nature bounty is required for the proper maintenance of
environmental equilibrium. It cannot e measured in terms of requirement and as such,
Court of Law cannot, in fact, decry the opinion of the environmentalists in that direction.
Law Courts exists for the benefits of the society- Law Court exists for the purpose of
giving redress to the society when called for and it must rise above all levels so that
justice is meted out and the society thrives there under. I do not find any justifiable reason
to disagree with the opinion expressed by the environmentalists that wetland should be
preserved and no interference or reclamation should be permitted.
40. It is , however, placed on record that no issue as regards the maintainability of the
writ petition or that of locus standi was raised before the Court during the entire course of
hearing of the matter and as such I need not delv into the issue.
In that view of the matter, there shall be an order of injunction restraining the StateRespondents from reclaiming any further wetland. There shall also be an order of
injunction prohibiting the respondents from granting any permission to any person
whatsoever for the purpose of changing the use of the land from agricultural to residential
or commercial in the area as indicated in the map annexed to the petition and marked
with letter C. The State-Respondents are further directed to maintain the nature and
character of the wetlands in their present form and to stop all encroachment of the
wetland area as indicated in the map annexed to the petition and marked with letter C.
The State-Respondents are further directed to take steps so as to stop private alienation
and, if required, by extending the statutory provisions in regard thereto.

41.

42. It is clarified, however, that in the event the State Respondents are desirous of
having a World Trade Centre or a Public Exhibition Centre in its reality, the State
Respondents, however, would be at liberty to apply before the Court within a period of
twelve months for variation of this order upon proper materials for further consideration
of this Court. It is, however, made clear that this further consideration would be restricted
to 187.44 acres of Chinta Singh Bhery, of which a portion has already been reclaimed ,
but the portion already reclaimed shall not in any way be utilized for any other purpose
other than a world Trade Centre or Public Exhibition Centre if so authorized by the
Court at any future point of time and till such time , however, status quo as of date shall
continue. In the event, however, of failure to apply in terms of this order within the time
as specified above, the writ petition shall stand disposed of without any order of costs.
Mr .Ukil, learned Government Pleader appearing for the respondents, praise for stay of
operation of this order, but the same is refused.

Annexure 3
EKW ACT 2006

71

Registered No. WB/SC-247

No. WB(Part-III)/2006/SAR-4

iiolkata
Extraordinary

Published by Authority
CAITRA

10]

FRIDAY,

PART III-Acts

MARCH

31, 2006'

[SAKA

1928

of the West Bengal Legislature.

GOVERNMENT

OF WEST BENGAL

LAW DEPARTMENT
Legislative
NOTIFICATION
No. 404-L.-31 st March, 2006.- The following Act of the West Bengal Legislature,
Governor, is hereby published for general information:-

having been assented to by the

West Bengal Act VII of 2006


THE EAST KOLKA TA WETLANDS (CONSERVATION
MANAGEMENT) ACT, 2006.

AND

(Passed by the West Bengal Legislature.)


[Assent of the Governor was first published in the Kolkata Gazette.
Extraordinary, of the 31st March, 2006.]
An Act to provide for conservation and management of the East Kolkata wetlands
and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.
WHEREASthe wetlands act as regulator of water regime, source for underground
water recharging, mechanism for waste water treatment, air quality purifier and store
of water for fire-fighting and have great ecological significance for human life;
ANDWHEREAS
there is an increasing pressure on land for human settlement leading
to filling up of the wetlands;
AND WHEREAS
the East Kolkata wetlands are ecologically
very important;

and socio-economically

AND WHEREASit is expedient to provide for conservation and management of


the East Kolkata wetlands and for matters connected therewith and incidental
thereto;

THE KOLKATA

GAZETTE,

EXTRAORDINARY,

The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation


Management) Act. 2006.
(Sections
It is hereby enacted in the Fifty-seventh
Legislature of West Bengal, as follows:Short title and
commencement.

2,

to have

[PART

1-3.)
Year of the Republic of India, by the

come

into

force

(Conservation

on the

16th day

and
of

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,(a) "Authority" means the East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority
constituted under section 3;
(b) "Chairperson" means the Chairperson of the Authority;
(c) "East Kolkata wetlands" means such of the areas included in the list of
Ramsar Sites as are specified in Schedule I and shown in the map in
Schedule II.

(d)
(e)
(f)

(g)
(h)
(i)

(j)
(k)
Constitution of
East Kolkata
Wetlands
Management
Authority.

be deemed

31, 2006

and

1. (I) This Act may be called the East Kolkata Wetlands


Management) Act, 2006.
(2) It shall
November, 2005.

Definitions.

MARCH

Explanation I.-For the purposes of this Act, "Ramsar Sites" means


the wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention.
Explanationll.-For
the purposes of this Act, "Ramsar Convention"
means the RamsarConvention
on Wetlands, Ramsar, Iran;
"land" includes any wetland;
"Land and Land Reforms Department" means the Land and Land Refonns
Department of the Government of West Bengal;
"local body" means a Panchayat within the meaning of clause (I) of
Article 243B, or a Municipality within the meaning of clause (I)
of Article 243Q, of the Constitution or, in the absence of a Panchayat
or Municipality,
an institution of self-Government
constituted
or
established under any other provision of the Constitution or by or under
any Central Act or State Act;
"Member-Secretary"
means the Member-Secretary
of the Authority;
"notification" means a notification published in the Official Gazette;
"prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
"State Government" means the Government of West Bengal in the
Department of Environment;
"water body" includes any land holding water.

3,
(I) The State Government shall, with effect from such date as it may, by
notification, appoint, constitute an Authority to be called the East Kolkata Wetlands
Management Authority.
(2) The Authority shall consist of the following Members:(i) Chief Secretary to the Government of West Bengal,
(ii) Secretary, Department of Environment,
Government of West Bengal,
(iii) Secretary, Department of Urban Development,
Government of West Bengal,
(iv) Secretary, Department of Irrigation and
Waterways, Government of West Bengal,
(v) Secretary, Department of Fisheries,
Government of West Bengal,
(vi) Secretary, Department of Forest,
Government of West Bengal,
(vii) Secretary, Department of Municipal Affairs,
Government of West Bengal,
(viii) Secretary, Department of Land and Land Reforms,
Government of West Bengal,
(ix) Secretary, Department of Panchayat and Rural
Development, Government of West Bengal,
(x) Chairman, West Bengal Pollution Control Board,
(xi) Member-Secretary,
West Bengal Pollution
Control Board,

Chai rperson;
MemberSecretary;
Member:
Member;
Member;
Member;
Member;
Member;
Member;
Member;
Member;

III

PART III]

THE KOLKATA

GAZETTE,

EXTRAORDINARY,

MARCH

31,2006

The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and


Management) Act, 2006.
(Section 4.)
(xii) Chief Executive Officer, Kolkata Metropolitan
Development Authority,
(xiii) Commissioner, Kolkata Municipal Corporation,
(xiv) District Magistrate, 24-Parganas (South),
(xv) District Magistrate, 24-Parganas (North),
(xvi) three persons to be nominated by the State
Government of whom one each shall be from
amongst the representatives of(a) the non-Government organisations having expertise
in the field of wetland conservation;
(b) the non-Government organisations having expertise
in the field of wetland management; and
(c) the fishermen's co-operative societies formed for
the purpose under the West Bengal Inland
Fisheries Act, 1984,
(xvii) one representative of the Institute of Environmental
Studies and Wetland Management, Kolkata, to be
nominated by the State Government.

Member;
Member;
Member;
Member;
Members;

West Ben.

xxv
Member.

(3) The Authority shall be a body corporate with the name specified in sub-section
(I) having perpetual succession and a common seal with power to acquire, hold and
dispose of property and to contract and may, by the aforesaid name, sue or be sued.
Functions and
powers of
Authority.

4, (I) The functions and powers of the East Kolkata Wetlands Management
Authority shall be(a) to demarcate the boundaries of the East Kolkata wetlands on the field
as shown in the map in Schedule II;
(b) to take measures or make an order to stop, undo and prevent any
unauthorised
development
project in, or unauthorised
use of, or
unauthorised act on, the East Kolkata wetlands;
(c) to make an order directing demolition or alteration of any hoarding,
frame, post, kiosk, structure, neon-signed or sky-sign, erected or exhibited
illegally for the purpose of advertisement on any land within the East
Kolkata wetlands;
(d) to make an order to prevent, prohibit or restrict any mining, quarrying,
blasting, or other operation of like nature, for the purpose of protecting
or conserving the East Kolkata wetlands;
(e) to take measures to abate pollution in the East Kolkata wetlands and
conserve the flora, fauna and biodiversity in general;
(f) to prepare action plans conforming
to the resolutions
taken and
recommendations made, from time to time, under the Ramsar Convention
and to update the land use maps of the East Kolkata wetlands;
(g) to implement and monitor the activities specified in the action plans;
(h) to promote research and disseminate findings of such research among
the stakeholders;
(i) to raise awareness about the utility of the wetlands in general and the
East Kolkata wetlands in particular;
U) to promote basic conservation principles like sewage fed pisciculture
and eco-tourism in the East Kolkata wetlands;
(k) to enforce land use control in the substantially water body oriented areas
and other areas in the East Kolkata wetlands;
(I) to detect changes of ecological character and in land use in the East
Kolkata wetlands;
(m) to establish network with other Ramsar Sites in India;
(n) to conduct inquiry or scientific study for any purpose of this Act;
(0) to constitute expert committee for any. purpose of this Act;
(p) to enter any land or premises, including to collect samples of air, water,
soil and other biological resources, for any purpose of this Act;
(q) to call for relevant records and documents and information from any
Department, organisation or local body for any purpose of this Act:

Act

of 1984.

THE KOLKATA

GAZETTE,

EXTRAORDINARY,

MARCH

31, 2006

[PART

III

The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and


Management) Act, 2006.
(Sections 5-10.)
(r) to do such act, or pass such order, which may be necessary and expedient
for the purpose of conservation and management of the East Kolkata
wetlands.
(2) The Authority shall, before making an order under clause (b), or clause (c),
or clause (d), of sub-section (I), give the person affected thereby a reasonable opportunity
of being heard.
Term of office.
allowances. etc.
of nominated
Member of
Authority.

5, (I) The term of office and allowances of a nominated Member of the Authority
shall be such as may be prescribed:
Provided that the State Government may, if it thinks fit, terminate, by order and
for the reasons to be recorded in writing, the appointment of any nominated Member
before the expiry of his term of office.
(2) A nominated Member of the Authority may resign his membership under his
hand addressed to the State Government and, on acceptance of such resignation by
the State Government, he shall cease to be a Member as such.
(3) Any vacancy, by resignation, death or otherwise, of a nominated Member shall
be filled by fresh nomination by the State Government.

Meeting of
Authority.

6. (I) The Authority shall meet at such place and time, and the meeting shall
be conducted in such manner, as may be prescribed.
(2) All orders and decisions of the Authority shall be authenticated by the
Chairperson or by such other Member or such officer of the Authority as may be
authorised in this behalf by the Chairperson.

Vacancy. etc. not


to invalidate acts
or proceedings of
Authority.

7. No act or proceeding of the Authority shall be called in question on the ground


merely of the existence of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the
Authority.

Officers and
employees of
Authority.

8. (I) The Authority may appoint such officers and employees as it considers
necessary for the efficient performance of its functions.
(2) The method of recruitment and the terms and conditions of service of the
officers and employees shall be such as may be prescribed.
Explanation.-For the purposes of sub-section (1) and sub-section (2), the expression
"officers and employees" does not include the Chairperson or the Member-Secretary
or any other Member of the Authority.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (I) or sub-section (2), the
State Government, on request of the Authority, may, by order in writing, require, for
performance of any function of the Authority, services of any officer or employee of
the State Government by way of duties in addition to his normal duties.

Maintenance and
preservation of
land in East
Kolkata wetlands.

Procedure for
granting sanction.

9. Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force,
every person holding any land in the East Kolkata wetlands shall maintain and preserve
such land in a manner that its area is not diminished, or its character is not changed,
or it is not converted for any purpose other than the purpose for which it was settled
or previously held, except with the previous sanction of the Authority under
section 10.
10. (I) Any person holding a land in the East Kolkata wetlands may apply, in
such manner as may be prescribed, to the Authority for change of character or mode
of use of the land.
(2) The Authority shall, on receipt of the application, examine the merit of the
case and, if necessary, inspect the proposed site.
(3) After examination of the case and inspection, if any, of the proposed site under
sub-section (2), the Authority shall refer the case to the Collector of the concerned
District for taking necessary action for issuance of an order under section 4C of the
West Bengal Land Reforms Act, 1955.
(4) On receipt of the order from the Collector of the concerned District, the
Authority may pass, in such form and with such restrictions and conditions as may
be prescribed. an order granting sanction for change of character or mode of use of
the land:

West Ben. Act X


of 1956.

THE KOLKATA

PART III]

GAZETTE.

EXTRAORDINARY.

MARCH

The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation


Management) Act. 2006.
(Sections

31.2006

and

11-16.)

Provided that if the sanction may result in filling up of any water body. the
Authority shall. prior to granting sanction under this sub-section. require the person
to create at an appropriate place within the East Kolkata Wetlands a water body of
which the area shall not be less than the area of the water body which may be so filled
up.
(5) Nothing in this section shall empower the Authority to grant sanction for
change of character or mode of use of a land unless the change is for improvement
or upkeep of the local environment and its surroundings.
Restoration of
land to original
character or mode
of use.

11. (1) If the Authority is, either suo motu or on receipt of any information.
satisfied that the character or mode of use of a land is being changed or has been
changed in contravention of any provision of this Act, it may. by order in writing,
require the person responsible for the change to restore the land. at his own expense,
to the original character or mode of use within such period as may be specified in
the order and. in case of default by such person. undertake the restoration by itself
and recover the cost thereof as arrears of land-revenue:
Provided that before passing the order the Authority
reasonable opportunity of being heard.

shall give the person

(2) The Authority may use appropriate technology and method in determining
whether a land comprises or has comprised a wetland or whether water is being or
has been drawn from a wetland so as to change the character or mode of use of the
wetland or whether a wetland is being or has been filled up partially or fully or whether
a wetland is being or has been encroached upon in any manner.
Fund of
Authority.

Accounts and
audit.

12. The Authority shall have its own fund and the sums which may be paid to
the Authority by the State Government and all other receipts. by way of grants, gifts,
donations, benefactions or otherwise. of the Authority shall be carried to the fund and
all payments by the Authority shall be made therefrom.
13. (I) The Authority shall maintain proper accounts and other relevant records
and prepare an annual statement of accounts in such form as may be prescribed.
(2) The annual accounts
General. West Bengal.

of the Authority

shall be audited by the Accountant-

(3) The Accountant-General,


West Bengal, shall have the same rights, privileges
and authority in connection with such audit as the Accountant-General,
West Bengal,
generally has in connection with the audit of Government accounts and. in particular,
shall have the right to demand the production of books. accounts. connected vouchers
and other documents and papers and to inspect the office of the Authority.
Annual report.

Powers and duties


of Chairperson
and MemberSecretary .

14. The Authority shall prepare for each financial year, in such form and at such
time each year as Inay be prescribed. its annual report giving a full account of its
activities during such financial year and forward a copy thereof to the State
Government.
15. (I) The Chairperson shall exercise such powers and discharge such duties
as may be prescribed or as may, from time to time. be delegated to him by the
Authority.
(2) The Member-Secretary
shall exercise such powers and discharge such duties
as may be prescribed or as may, from time to time. be delegated to him by the Authority
or the Chairperson.

Directions by
Slate Government.

16. The Authority shall be guided. in performance of its functions. by such


directions as may be given. from time to time. to it by the State Government:
Provided that no such direction shall be inconsistent
Act.

with any provision of this

THE KOLKATA

GAZETTE,

EXTRAORDINARY,

MARCH

31, 2006

The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and


Management) Act, 2006.
(Sections 17-22.)
Power to include
any area in. or
enlarge any area
of. East Kolkata
wetlands.

17. (I) The State Government may, if it is of opinion that it is necessary or


expedient in the public interest so to do, by notification, include any area in, or enlarge
any area of, the East Kolkata wetlands and, thereupon, Schedule I and Schedule II
shall be deemed to have been amended accordingly.
(2) Every notification issued under sub-section (I) shall, as soon as may be after
it is issued, be laid before the State Legislature.

Penalties.

18, (I) Whoever fails to comply with or contravenes any provision of this
Act or the rules made, or orders issued, thereunder shall be guilty of an offence
and shall, in respect of each such failure or contravention,
be punished with
imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may
extend to one lac rupees or with both and, in case such failure or contravention
continues, with an additional fine which may extend upto five thousand rupees for
every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the ccnviction
for first' such failure or contravention.
(2) Every such offence shall be cognizable

Offences by
companies.

and non-bailable.

19. (I) Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company,
every person, who at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was
responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well
as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to
be proceeded against and punished accordingly:
Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person
liable to any punishment, if he proves that the offence was committed without his
knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of
such offence.
(2) Notwithstanding
anything contained in sub-section (I), where an offence
under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence
has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to, any
neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the
company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to
be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished
accordingly.

Explanation.-For

Offences by
officers of State
Government or
local bodies.

Protection of
action taken in
good faith.

Act to override
other laws.

the purposes of this section,-

(a) "company"
association

means any body corporate,


of individuals; and

and includes

a firm or other

(b) "director",

in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.

20. If any officer of the State Government or of a local body permits or neglects
doing, or wilfully fails to do, any act whereby an offence under this Act is
committed, he shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the service law applicable
to him for the time being in force, be deemed to have committed under such service
law misconduc: in discharge of his official duties and be subjected to the disciplinary
proceedings an,j penalties accordingly.
21. No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Authority
or any Member, officer or employee thereof or the State Government or any officer
or employee thereof for anything, or any damage caused or likely to be caused by
anything, which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act or the
rules made thereunder.
22. The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained
in any law for the time being in force or in any contract, express or implied, or in
any instrument having effect by virtue of any law or in any custom or usage.

[PART III

PART

III]

THE KOLKATA

GAZETTE.

EXTRAORDINARY,

MARCH

The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation


Management) Act, 2006.

31. 2006

and

(Sections 23-25.)
Power to make
rules.

23. (I) The State Government


the purposes of this Act.

may, by notification,

make rules for carrying out

(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power.
such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters:(a) the term of office and allowances of a nominated Member of the Authority
under sub-section (I) of section 5;
(b) the place and time and manner of conducting the meeting of the Authority
under section 6;
(c) the method of recruitment and the terms and conditions of service of the
officers and employees of the Authority under sub-section
(2) of
section 8;
(d) the manner of making application for change of character or mode of use
of the land under sub-section (I) of section 10;
(e) the form and the restrictions and conditions of an order granting sanction
for change of character or mode of use of the land under sub-section (4)
of section 10;
(f) the form of maintaining accounts and other relevant records and preparing
an annual statement of accounts under sub-section (I) of section 13;
(g) the form and time for preparing

the annual report under section

(h) the powers and duties to be exercised and discharged


and the Member-Secretary
under section IS;

14;

by the Chairperson

(i) any other matter which is required to be. or may be. prescribed.
(3) All rules made under this section shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is
made. before the State Legislature, while it is in session, for a total period of fourteen
days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions.
and if. before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the
successive sessions aforesaid, the State Legislature agrees in making any modification
in the rules, or the State Legislature agrees that such rules should not be made, the
rules shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as
the case may be; so. however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without
prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under those rules.
Power to remove
difticulties.

24. (I) If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act. the
State Government may, for the purpose of removing such difficulty, by order published
in the Official Gazette, make such provisions. not inconsistent with the provisions
of this Act, as it may deem to be necessary or expedient:
Provided that no such order shall be made after the expiry of a period of two years
from the commencement of this Act.
(2) Every order made under sub-section
made, be laid before the State Legislature.

Repeal and
saving.

(I) shall, as soon as may be after it is

25. (I) The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation


2005. is hereby repealed.

and Management)

Ordinance,

(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, anything done or any action taken under the said
Ordinance shall be deemed to have been validly done or taken under the corresponding
provisions of this Act.

West Ben. Ord.


VII of 2005.

Annexure 4
Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)
Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2009

80

Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)


Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2009
Comments submitted by:
Wetland Conservation Program,
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE),
Centre of Excellence in Conservation Science (MoEF),
Royal Enclave, Srirampura, Jakkur PO, Bangalore - 560064
E-mail for correspondence: priyan@atree.org
Ref: Background note dated May 14th, 2010.
The legislations often are interpreted as the policies of the sate towards an
issue. So the legislations should be drafted based on strong visions and policies, if
possible after formulating a national strategy. Unfortunately most of our recent
legislations are made without a comprehensive vision or policy backup. The Wetlands
(Conservation and Management) Rules, 2009 is not an exemption.
The draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2009 is circulated as a
follow up of the draft Regulatory framework for wetland conservation released in
2008. But, the proposed rules are not significantly different or comprehensive
compared to its previous version and also unfortunately continue to propose the
unjustifiable State control and interventions over peoples livelihoods.
We wish to point out certain shortcomings in the draft Wetlands (Conservation and
Management) Rules, 2009 and expect those will be addressed before this notification
being promulgated.
Although the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2009 mention that
these rules are made for conservation and management of wetlands, it does not make
any constructive suggestions or recommendations for the conservation our wetlands
demand. Instead it brings all wetlands into complete official control by installing
Central, state and District level wetland regulatory authorities, where the majority of
the members are senior government officials.
A remarkable drop in Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2009, when
comparing it with Wetland Regulatory Framework -2008 is that it allows to continue
all non-wetland use of wetlands such as dredging, reclamation etc (Sect. 2
Restrictions on Activities within the Wetlands) by mentioning such activities shall be
prohibited (Sec 2(1)) where the Wetland Regulatory Framework -2008 has clearly
listed such activities as Prohibited Activities (sect 4. (Restriction on Activities within
Wetlands)).
The emerging ecosystem conservation and management practices worldwide,
recognize the importance of protecting dependent livelihoods and installing
democratic structures for ecosystem management. Even within the country, acts such
as forest conservation is moving in that direction by promulgation of Forest Rights
Act. Unfortunately the proposed rules not only reject such latest understanding but
also try to move in an opposite direction.

Millions of poor people in the country are traditionally dependent on wetlands for
their primary livelihood. Wetland services play a significant role in the well-being of
the dependents and larger regional economies. Nowhere the draft Wetlands
(Conservation and Management) Rules,2009 mentions the importance of wetlands in
livelihoods of poor people and the effect of degradation of wetland ecosystem
services on poverty and vulnerability. The rules does not recognize the traditional
rights over the wetlands for livelihoods even as it seeks to regulate such activities
(sect 2 (2)). Such regulation can in effect become prohibitive for livelihood activities.
The draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules,2009 centralizes powers to
a Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, for the Category A wetlands the State
Wetland Regulatory Authority for the category B wetlands. Rather than such
centralized institutions, a decentralized system of empowered institutions would be
more effective and efficient.
The Sixth Conference of Parties of Ramsar Convention has called upon the
Contracting Parties to make specific efforts to encourage active and informed
participation of local and indigenous people at Ramsar listed sites and other wetlands
and their catchments, and their direct involvement, through appropriate mechanisms,
in wetland management (Recommendation 6.3 of Ramsar COP6 1996). No such
efforts are made in this Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2009 to
ensure the involvement of the communities and local stakeholders groups in the
management of the wetlands. The public participation in the Wetland conservation is
limited by including one NGO membership each in Central and State Wetlands
Regulatory Authority and 2 village Panchayat Members and two NGO representatives
in the District Wetlands Regulatory Authority. There is NO representation for the
other elected representatives (Members of Parliaments, Members of Legislative
Assemblies, district Panchayats etc) or stakeholder groups, in any of the regulatory
authorities or in the Central, state or District Wetland appraisal committees.
Being a signatory to the Ramsar convention, India is committed to have a National
Wetland Policy. It would have been ideal if the wetland regulatory framework was
drafted based on a National Wetland Policy. The purpose of legislation should not be
just regulating the activities and controlling the access to the citizens. Instead it should
include visions for scientific management and conservation of wetlands with the
active involvement and local people recognising their traditional rights and respecting
their knowledge and experience.
The document also have to improve the language to provide more clarity in many
sections and also should rectify the errors in section numbering.
Section wise comments
Sect.. 2(1) Restrictions for activities within the wetlands
This section lists several activities which shall be prohibited. This effectively
allows continuing all the activities listed to continue till a separate notification to ban
such activities come into effect. We propose to list these activities as prohibited
without any ambiguity as in the previous Regulatory Framework for Wetlands
Conservation-2008.
Sect. 2.1.(vii) ConstructionThe fifty meter stipulation is impractical in many wetlands, especially for those in
densely populated areas where houses are built literally on the embankments. So

individual housing constructions should be excluded from the purview of the Act and
the size of the construction may be delimited. However the fifty meter stipulation can
be useful in regulating future constructions for commercial purposes.
Sect. 2 (2) Activities which need prior approval
This section demands a prior approval for several activities even when they are within
the acceptable limits of resource use. The most important among them is section
2.2.(ii) which mention about the harvesting of living resources and section 2.2.(ix)
fisheries within the carrying capacity of the wetland;
Regulating primary livelihood activities of traditional communities will have adverse
impacts and will result in the escalation of poverty and vulnerability. These activities
should be excluded from the regulation. Any unhealthy practices followed by these
communities could be regulated / even prohibited based with the existing fishery acts.
Sect. 3. Categorization of Wetlands
Irrespective of the size, wetlands that perform critical ecological / biodiversity
functions (e.g.: harbouring critical population of endangered species) need to be
included under category A.
Sect. 4, 5 and 6. Constitution of various committees
The institutions for managing the natural resources in our country are underperforming in many instances because of the lack of democratic nature. The so called
public consultation is often ineffective to bring local peoples view points and
concerns into decision making. The proposed structure of various committees include
mainly officials and subject experts. We propose to include the democratically elected
members of various parliament/ assembly/panchayat constituencies in various
committees.
It would be more appropriate if the government could promulgate an ACT for the
conservation of wetlands the lifeline of the country, instead of bringing out
notifications which has limitations. ACT is an act of Parliament whcih provides
opportunities for wide discussion inside and outside. We have acts for the
conservation of Forests, Biodiversity etc. Why can not there be an act for the
conservation of wetlands which directly and indirectly play several ecosystem
functions and provide livelihood support for the millions where majority are
marginalised.
ATREEs Wetland Conservation team involved in this review:
Dr. Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan
Dr. Siddhartha Krishnan
Mr. M.C. Kiran
Dr. Latha Bhaskar

Annexure 5
Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt of India

Draft Regulatory Framework for Wetlands


Conservation for Comments
May 24, 2010

84

Draft Regulatory Framework for Wetlands Conservation for Comments


May 24, 2010
[A] Background:
Wetlands are the transitional zones between permanently aquatic and dry terrestrial ecosystems. A
wide variety of wetlands like marshes, swamps, open water bodies, mangroves and tidal flats and
salt marshes etc. exists in our country. Wetlands are considered life support systems and provide a
wide range of services critical to human development and well-being. They help recharge aquifers,
support local food production, function as habitat for indigenous and migratory birds, are effective
in flood and erosion control besides being a major source of national and international ecotourism.
Wetlands also play a major role in treating and detoxifying variety of waste products as well as
physical buffering of climate change impacts. Globally, 1.5 - 3 billion people depend on wetlands as
a source of drinking water as well as for food and livelihood security. The significance of linkages
between wetlands and human development can be most explicitly experienced within Asia whose
major civilizations have evolved in the river valleys and wetlands.
[B] Wetlands in India:
India has a varied terrain and climate that supports a rich diversity of inland and coastal wetland
habitats including Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur, Rajasthan), which supports a large
population of migratory birds every winter; Chilika (Orissa), the largest brackish water lake in
India; and Wular (Jammu and Kashmir), one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia playing a key
role in hydrographic system of Kashmir. Wetlands constitute 18.4% of the countrys area of which
70% are under paddy cultivation.
[C] Key Threats:
Despite their immense use to human well-being, wetlands are the most threatened and rapidly
degrading ecosystems globally. The biotic and abiotic threats are varied and include:
habitat destruction and encroachments through drainage and landfill
over-exploitation of fish resources
discharge of waste water and industrial effluents
uncontrolled siltation and weed infestation
ill-effects of fertilizers and pesticides
other such anthropogenic pressures.
Research suggests that 1/3rd of Indian wetlands have already been wiped out or severely degraded.
[C] MoEF Initiatives:
The Government of India has accorded wetlands conservation a high priority and, the National
Environment Policy (NEP) 2006 seeks to set up a legally enforceable regulatory mechanism for
identified wetlands to prevent their degradation, enhance their conservation and wise-use by all the
stakeholders.
Since 1985-86, Indias National Wetlands Conservation Programme has supporting conservation
activities and, is currently providing financial support to 115 wetlands. India has been a member of
the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention as well as a part of the Supervisory Council of
Wetland International (Ramsar Convention partner) on the basis of rich experience in
conservation. 6,77,131 hectares of wetlands across 25 sites in India have been identified and
declared Ramsar sites, and six more will be declared shortly.
[D] Proposed Regulatory Framework:
In pursuance of the policy resolution, a multi-disciplinary expert group was set up in the Ministry
to formulate a structure for regulatory framework for the conservation of wetlands. A draft of the
Regulatory Framework is appended to this release. We invite a final round of comments from all
stakeholders. Please send yoru feedback to the following, before June 21st 2010.

Dr. Siddharth Kaul, Scientist F s.kaul@nic.in


Dr. Shruti Rai, Scientist C shruti.rai@nic.in
Mr. A K Goyal, Joint Secretary akg@nic.in
---

[TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE GAZETTE OF INDIA, PART II, SECTION 3, SUBSECTION (ii)]

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
MIINSTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS

NOTIFICATION

New Delhi the .. , 2009

G.S.R. ---WHEREAS the wetlands, which are vital parts of the hydrological cycle, are highly
productive, support exceptionally large biological diversity and provide a wide range of
ecosystem services, such as food and fibre, waste assimilation, water purification, flood
mitigation, erosion control, ground water recharge; microclimate regulation; enhance
aesthetics of the landscape, support many significant recreational, social and cultural
activities, besides being a part of the cultural heritage;

AND WHEREAS many wetlands are seriously threatened by reclamation


through drainage and landfill, conversion, pollution (discharge of domestic and
industrial effluents, disposal of solid wastes), hydrological alterations (water
withdrawal and inflow changes), and over-exploitation of their natural resources
resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in goods and services provided by
wetlands;
AND WHEREAS India is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on wetlands
for conserving their biodiversity and wise use, extending its scope to a wide variety
of habitats, including rivers and lakes, coastal lagoons, mangroves, peatlands, coral
reefs, and numerous man-made wetlands, such as ponds, farm ponds, irrigated
agricultural lands, sacred grooves, salt pans reservoirs, gravel pits, sewage farms,
and canals;
AND WHEREAS the Central Government has identified a number of wetlands
for conservation and management under its conservation programme and provides

financial and technical assistance to the State Governments or Union territory


Administration for various conservation activities through approval of the
Management Action Plans;
AND WHEREAS the National Environment Policy recognises the numerous
ecological services provided by wetlands and emphasizes on the need for setting up
of a legally enforceable regulatory mechanism for the identified wetlands and
developing of a national inventory of such wetlands;
NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 25 read with
sub-section (1) and clause (v) of sub-section (2) and sub section (3) of section 3 of the
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), the Central Government hereby makes the
following rules for conservation and management of wetlands, namely:-

1.

Short title and commencement.-

(1) These rules may be called the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules,
2009.
(2) They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

2.

Definitions.- In these Rules unless the context otherwise requires,-

(a) Act means the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986);

(b) wetland means an area of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or
artificial, permanent or temporary with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish
or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not
exceed six meters and includes all inland waters such as lakes, reservoirs,
marshes, swamps, tanks, backwaters, lagoons, creeks, estuaries, man-made
wetlands; the zone of influence on wetlands, i.e, the riparian floodplain areas along
the rivers to the extent they are flooded naturally, a perimeter of 200 metres from
the highest water line observed in the last ten years; but

does not include main river channels, paddy fields, those coastal wetlands
covered under the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of
Environment and Forests number S.O. ---- dated --- --published in the
Gazette of India, Extraordinary Part-II, section 3, sub-section (ii) issued under
section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;

(c) National Park means an area declared, whether under section 35, or section 38, or
deemed to be declared as a National Park under sub-section (3) of section 66, of
the Wild Life (Protection) Act, (35 of 1972);

(d) Wildlife Sanctuary means an area declared as a wildlife sanctuary under the
provisions of Chapter IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (18 of 1972) and shall
include an area deemed to be sanctuary under sub section (4) of section 66, of the
said Act;

(e) dredging means an excavation activity or operation usually carried out at least
partly underwater, in shallow sea or fresh water areas with the purpose of gathering
up bottom sediments and disposing them off at a different location;

(f)

Regulatory Authority constituted under the rule (3), (4) and (5) at Central, State and
District level.

(g)

Committee means the Central Wetlands Appraisal Committee constituted under


rule 6(a), the State Wetlands Appraisal Committee constituted under rule 6(b), or
the District Wetlands Appraisal Committee constituted under rule 6(c).

(h)

person shall include any company or association or body of individuals, whether


incorporated or not.

(i)

Chairperson means the Chairperson of the Central Wetland Regulatory Authority,


or the State Wetland Regulatory Authority or as the case may be of Central Wetlands
Appraisal Committee, State Wetland Appraisal Committee or District Wetlands
Appraisal Committee.

(j)

Public Consultation refers to the process by which the concerns of local affected
persons and others who have plausible stake in the ecological and economic
aspects of the site proposed to be identified under the regulatory framework, are
taken into account.

2.

Restrictions on Activities within the Wetlands.-

(1) The following activities within the notified wetlands shall be prohibited, namely :(i)

conversion of wetlands to non-wetland use with appropriate benchmarks in


time for land use;
(ii) reclamation of wetlands;
(iii) setting up of new industries and expansion of existing industries;

(iv) manufacture or handling or storage or disposal of hazardous substances


as specified in the notifications of the Government of India in the Ministry
of Environment and Forests No. S.O. 594(E) dated 28th July 1989, S.O.
966 (E) dated 27th November, 1989 and GSR 1037 (E) dated 5th
December, 1989;
(v) solid waste dumping; the existing practices, if any, shall be phased out
within a reasonable time period not exceeding one year from the date of
notification of the wetland under these rules;
(vi) discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities or towns
and other human settlements; the existing practices, if any, shall be
phased out within a reasonable time period not exceeding two years from
the date of notification of the wetland under these rules;
(vii) any construction of permanent nature except for boat jetties within fifty
metres from the mean high flood level observed in the last ten years in the
standing water bodies;
(viii) any other activity to be specified in writing by the regulatory authorities
constituted in accordance with these rules, which may have adverse
impact on the ecosystem of the wetland.
The following activities within the notified wetlands shall not be
undertaken without the prior approval of the concerned regulatory
authority:

(2)

(i)

withdrawal of water, impoundment, diversion, interruption of sources


carried within the natural carrying capacity of the wetland ecosystem
and essential for the sustenance of local communities;

(ii)

harvesting of living and non-living resources; grazing to the level that


the basic nature and character of the biotic community is not
adversely affected;

(iii) treated effluent discharges from industries, cities or towns, human


settlements and agricultural fields falling within the limits prescribed
by the Central Pollution Control Board or the State Pollution Control
Committee, as the case may be.
(iv) plying of motorized boat, if it is not detrimental to the nature and
character of the biotic community;
(v)

dredging only if the wetland is impacted by siltation;

(vi) construction of boat jetties;


(vii) activities which interfere with the normal run-off and related
ecological processes upto 200 meters as per the definition of
wetland;

(viii) facilities required for temporary use such as pontoon bridges and
approach roads;

(3)

fisheries within the carrying capacity of the wetland;

(x)

any other activity to be identified by the regulatory


authorities
constituted in accordance with these rules, which may have
adverse impact on the wetlands.

Notwithstanding anything undefined in sub rules (1) and (2), the power to
convert a wetland under category A to non-wetland use shall vest with the
Central Government and conversion of wetland under category B shall
vest with the State Government or Union territory Administration, (herein
after referred to as the State Government), with the prior approval of the
Central Government and the power to convert a wetland under category C
to non-wetland use shall vest with the State Government.
For conversion, the State Government shall ensure that a detailed
Environment Impact Assessment is carried out as per the prescribed
procedures and no wetland shall be converted to non-wetland use unless it
is in the public interest and detailed reasons justifying the decision are
recorded.
Provided that any change in category of land use shall be in accordance
with the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, or any other Act regulating
such water bodies in the State or Union territory.

(4)

(ix)

Categorization of wetlands-

(1)
Based on the relative significance of the functions performed by the
wetlands for overall well being of the people and for determining the extent
and level of regulation, wetlands shall be categorised in to the following
categories, namely:(i)

Category A
The wetlands which covers one or more of the following ingredients
shall be fall within the category A wetlands and shall be regulated
by the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, namely:(a) wetland specified in schedule-I; List of Ramsar Sites is given below:

S.No.

Name of Wetland

State

Ashtamudi Wetland

Kerala

Bhitarkanika Mangroves

Orissa

Bhoj Wetland

Madhya Pradesh

Chilika Lake

Orissa

Deepor Beel

Assam

East Calcutta Wetlands

Harike Lake

Punjab

Kanjli

Punjab

Keoladeo National Park MR

10

Kolleru Lake

Andhra Pradesh

11

Loktak Lake

Manipur

12

Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird


Sanctuary

13

Pong Dam Lake

14

Ropar

15

Sambhar Lake

16

Sasthamkotta Lake

17

Tsomoriri

18

Vembanad-Kol Wetland

19

Wular Lake

Jammu & Kashmir

20

Chandratal

HP

21

Renuka

HP

22

Rudrasagar

23

Uppar Ganga

U.P.

24

Hokarsar

J&K

West Bengal

Rajasthan

Tamil Nadu

Himachal Pradesh
Punjab
Rajasthan
Kerala
Jammu & Kashmir
Kerala

Tripura

( Hokera)
25

Surinsar & Mansar (Copmlex)

J&K

(b) wetland recognised as or lying within a World Heritage Site or a


National Heritage Site, which refers to A UNESCO World Heritage
Site is a specific site (such as a forest, mountain range, lake,
desert, building, complex, or city) that has been nominated for the
international World Heritage program administered by UNESCO.

(ii)

(c) high altitude wetland at two thousand and five hundred metres or
more above the mean sea level having an extent of five hectares or
more;
(d) transboundary wetland (partially falling in the territory of another
country);
(e) inter-state wetland which does not fall under categories B or C;
(f) wetland with an area equivalent to or more than one thousand
hectares in arid region, five thousand hectares in semi-arid region,
ten thousand hectares in sub-humid, and one lakh hectares in
humid tropic region; and
(g) wetland which is a major source of drinking water for class A cities.
Explanation:- For the purpose of this class, A means a town having
the population of more than one lakh.
Category B
The wetlands which covers one or more of the following ingredients
shall be within the category A wetlands and shall be regulated by
the State Wetlands Regulatory Authority, namely :(a) Wetland recognised as, or lying within, a State Heritage Site;
(b) Wetland with an area of twenty five hectares but below one
thousand hectares in arid region, one hundred hectares but below
five thousand hectares in semi-arid region, five hundred hectares
but below ten thousand hectares in sub-humid; and two thousand
and five hundred hectares but below one lakh in humid tropic
region;
(c) High altitude wetland at two thousand and five hundred metres or
more above mean sea level having an extent of less than five
hectares;
(d) Wetland which is a major source of drinking water for a Class B
town

Explanation:- For the purpose of this clause, B town means a town


having the population between fifty thousand to one lakh.
(iii)Category C
The wetlands which covers one or more of the following ingredients
shall be within the category C wetlands and shall be regulated by
the District Wetland Regulatory Authority, namely :(a) wetlands other than those covered under categories A and B;
(b) wetland with an area of less than twenty five hectares in arid
region, less than one hundred hectares in semi-arid region, less
than five hundred hectares in sub-humid and less than two
thousand and five hundred hectares in humid tropic region;

(c) wetland which is a major source of drinking water for local


communities involving at least one hundred households; and
(d) wetland which is socially, and, or, culturally important to the local
communities.
(2)
In case of any conflict on the issue of justification of a wetland
based upon criteria specified under rule (1), the State Wetland Regulatory
Authority shall form an opinion in respect of the issue taking into account
the additional criteria on ecological significance of the wetland, and the
refer the same for decision to the Central Government.

Constitution of Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority

(1) The Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall consist of the following
Chairpersons and members, namely:(a) Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India
Chairperson;
(b) Representative (not below the rank of Joint Secretary) from Ministry of
Tourism, Government of India Member ex officio;
(c) Representative (not below the rank of Joint Secretary) from Ministry of Water
Resources, Government of India Member ex officio;
(d) Representative (not below the rank of Joint Secretary) from Ministry of
Agriculture, Government of India Member ex officio;
(e) Representative (not below the rank of Joint Secretary) from Ministry of Social
Justice, Government of India Member ex officio;
(f) Chairman or his nominee, Central Pollution Control Board, Member ex
officio;
(g) Joint Secretary, in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of
India, - member;
(h) Expert in the field of Marine Biology non official member
(i) Expert Limnology non official member
(j) Expert Ornithology non official member

(k) Expert wetland management non official member


(l) Expert Ecology non official member
(m)Expert Hydrology non official member
(n) Expert Environmental Education non official members
(o) Director, Wetland Member Secretary;
(2)

All the non official member will be nominated by Ministry of Environment and
Forests as and when required by issuing a notification.

(3)

The tenure of the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall be three years
with effect from the date of publication of this notification in the official
Gazette.

(4)

The Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall exercise the following


powers and perform the following functions, namely:(i)

grant of clearances for permissible activities in the wetlands within their


respective jurisdictions;

(ii)

exercise regulatory functions;

(iii)

determine the zone of influence of the wetlands;

(iv)

issue broad guidelines for compliance by the State Governments.

(5)

Based on the recommendations of the Central Wetlands, Appraisal


Committee, State Wetlands Appraisal Committee and District Wetlands
Appraisal Committee, the Central Wetland regulatory authority shall decide
the inclusion of the wetlands to be governed under these rules along with the
details of prohibited and permissible activities.

(6)

The Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, shall approve the guidelines


drafted by the Central Wetlands, Appraisal Committee, prescribing the
threshold levels for activities to be regulated and the mode and methodology
for undertaking these activities.

4.

Constitution of State Wetlands Regulatory Authority

(1)

The State Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall consist of the following


Chairpersons and members, namely:(a) Chief Secretary, Department of Environment and Forests, State Government Chairperson;

(b) Secretary, Tourism, State Government Member ex officio;


(c) Secretary, Water Resources, State Government Member ex officio;
(d) Secretary, Agriculture, State Government Member ex officio;
(e) Secretary, Social Justice, State Government Member ex officio;
(f) Secretary, Fisheries, State Government Member ex officio;
(g) Expert in the field of Marine Biology non official member
(h) Expert Limnology non official member
(i) Expert Ornithology non official member
(j) Expert wetland management non official member
(k) Expert Ecology non official member
(l) Expert Hydrology non official member
(m)

Expert Environmental Education non official members

(n) Representative from Non Governmental Organizations


(o) Director, Department of Environment and Forests or Nodal Department
Member Secretary ex officio;
(2)

All the non official member will be nominated by the State Wetland Regulatory
Authority as and when required by issuing a notification.

(3)

The expanses of the State Wetlands Regulatory Authority for discharging of


its function shall be met by the State Government

(4)

The tenure of the State Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall be three years
with effect from the date of publication of this notification in the official
Gazette.

(5)

The State Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall exercise the following powers
and perform the following functions, namely:-

(i)

grant of clearances for permissible activities in the wetlands within their


respective jurisdictions;

(ii)

exercise regulatory functions;

(iii)

determine the zone of influence of the wetlands;

(iv)

issue broad guidelines for compliance by the State Governments.

(6)

Based on the recommendations of the Central Wetlands, Appraisal


Committee, State Wetlands Appraisal Committee and District Wetlands
Appraisal Committee, the regulatory authorities shall decide the inclusion of
the wetlands to be governed by these Rules along with the details of
prohibited and permissible activities.

(7)

The State Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall approve the guidelines drafted
by the State Wetlands Appraisal Committee, prescribing the threshold levels
for activities to be regulated and the mode and methodology for undertaking
these activities.

5.

Constitution of District Wetlands Regulatory Authority

(1)

The District Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall consist of the following


Chairpersons and members, namely:(a) District Magistrate, - Chairperson ex officio;
(b) District Forest Officer, Member ex officio;
(c) Director or his representative Department of Agriculture, Member ex officio;
(d) Director or his representative Department of Water Resource, Member ex
officio;
(e) Director or his representative Department of Social Welfare, Member ex
officio;
(f) Two representative from village panchayats (on rotational basis)
(g) Two representatives from Non Governmental Organizations /Stakeholder non
official.

(h) Eminent Personal Member Secretary ex officio;


(2)

All the non official member will be nominated by the District Magistrate as and
when required by issuing a notification with the approval of Chairperson of the
State Wetland Regulatory Authority.

(3)

All expanses of the District Wetlands Regulatory Authority for discharging of


its function shall be met by the District Authority.

(4)

The tenure of the District Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall be three years
with effect from the date of publication of this notification in the official
Gazette.

(5)

The District Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall exercise the following powers
and perform the following functions, namely:(i)

grant of clearances for permissible activities in the wetlands within their


respective jurisdictions;

(ii)

exercise regulatory functions;

(iii)

determine the zone of influence of the wetlands;

(iv)

Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall issue broad guidelines for


compliance by the State Governments.

(v)

Based on the recommendations of the Central Wetlands, Appraisal


Committee, State Wetlands Appraisal Committee and District Wetlands
Appraisal Committee, the regulatory authorities shall decide the inclusion of
the wetlands to be governed by these Rules along with the details of
prohibited and permissible activities.

(vi)

The District Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall approve the guidelines


drafted by the District Wetlands Appraisal Committee, prescribing the
threshold levels for activities to be regulated and the mode and methodology
for undertaking these activities.

Appraisal Committees
(1) (a)

The Central Government shall constitute a Central Wetlands Appraisal


Committee at the Central Government level for category A wetlands as per
composition given below:

A chairperson, who shall be an outstanding expert in the field of policy


formulation, environmental management or public administration, having
national or international recognition and having adequate knowledge and

experience in wetland and lake conservation and other related issues, to be


nominated by the Central Government for Central Wetlands Appraisal
Committee.

The chairperson shall nominate one of the members as the vice-chairperson


who shall preside over the Committee meetings in the absence of the
chairperson.

An officer dealing with wetlands conservation programme in the Ministry of


Environment and Forests shall be the member-secretary of the Central
Wetlands, Appraisal Committee.

The total number of members shall not exceed twelve including the
chairperson and the member-secretary for Central Wetlands, Appraisal
Committee

(b)

The State Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall be constituted by State


Government for category B as per composition given as below:

A chairperson, who shall be an outstanding expert in the field of policy


formulation, environmental management or public administration, having
national or international recognition and having adequate knowledge and
experience in wetland and lake conservation and other related issues, to be
nominated by the State Government for State Wetlands Appraisal Committee

The chairperson shall nominate one of the members as the vice-chairperson


who shall preside over the Committee meetings in the absence of the
chairperson.

An officer dealing with wetlands conservation programme at the State level,


the member-secretary shall be a serving officer of the concerned Department
of Environment/Forests and Wildlife.

The total number of members shall not exceed twelve including the
chairperson and the member-secretary State Wetlands Appraisal Committee

(c)

District Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall be constituted by the District


Magistrate as per the eligibility criteria given below:

A chairperson, of District Wetlands Appraisal Committee will be District


Magistrate

The chairperson shall nominate one of the members as the vice-chairperson


who shall preside over the Committee meetings in the absence of the
chairperson.

An officer dealing with wetlands conservation programme at the District level,


the member-secretary shall be the serving officer nominated by the District
Magistrate.

The total number of members shall not exceed nine members for District
Wetlands Appraisal Committee DWAC which shall include four experts and
three elected peoples representatives, one from Zila Parishad, and one each
by rotation from the village and block samities

(d)

The term of office of the Central Wetlands Appraisal Committee, State


Wetlands Appraisal Committee and District Wetlands Appraisal Committee
shall be three years.

(2)

The terms and conditions of appointment including payment of honorarium,


etc., of the chairperson and non-official members shall be as per norms of the
Government of India, for the Central Wetlands, Appraisal Committee and the
State Government for the State Wetlands Appraisal Committee and District
Wetlands Appraisal Committee, issued from time to time for such committees.

(3)

The Ministry of Environment and Forests shall provide secretariat assistance


to the Central Wetlands Appraisal Committee and the State Department of
Environment or Forests and Wildlife shall act as secretariat for the State
Wetlands Appraisal Committee. The District Magistrate shall designate one
department as nodal department for providing secretarial assistance to the
District Wetlands Appraisal Committee.

Functions of the Central, State and District Wetlands Appraisal Committees:-

(a) Central Wetlands Appraisal Committee:-

(1) The Central Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall appraise proposals for
identification of new wetlands, projects or activities provided in sub-rule (2) of
Rule 4 for category A

(2)

The Central Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall make categorical


recommendations to the regulatory authority concerned, either for allowing the
activities with stipulated terms and conditions or rejection of the proposal
together with reasons for the same.

(3)

In addition to the above, the Central Wetlands shall render necessary advice
with respect to other functions of the concerned regulatory authority, as and
when required.

(b) State Wetlands Appraisal Committee:-

(1) The State Wetlands Appraisal Committee and shall appraise proposals for
identification of new wetlands, projects or activities provided in sub-rule (2) of
Rule 4 for category B

(2)

The State Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall make categorical


recommendations to the regulatory authority concerned, either for allowing the
activities with stipulated terms and conditions or rejection of the proposal
together with reasons for the same.

(3)

In addition to the above, the State Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall render
necessary advice with respect to other functions of the concerned regulatory
authority, as and when required.

(c) District Wetlands Appraisal Committee:-

(1)

The District Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall appraise proposals for


identification of new wetlands, projects or activities provided in sub-rule (2) of
Rule 4 for category A and B and District Wetlands Appraisal Committee for
category C.

(2)

The Central Wetlands Appraisal Committee, State Wetlands Appraisal


Committee and District Wetlands Appraisal Committee, shall make categorical
recommendations to the regulatory authority concerned, either for allowing the
activities with stipulated terms and conditions or rejection of the proposal
together with reasons for the same.

(3)

In addition to the above, District Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall render


necessary advice with respect to other functions of the concerned regulatory
authority, as and when required.

Proponents for Initiation of the Proposals.-

The proposals for identification of wetlands under various categories shall be initiated
by the Central Government or State Government or District Authorities, as the case may be
and the following categories of proponents may also initiate proposal for identification of a
particular wetland:

(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)

A Central or State or Local Public Organization


A recognized University or Research Institution
A recognized Community Based Organization
A registered Industrial Association
NGO having office in a district in which the wetland is located

Process for identification and notification of wetlands under different


categories.-

(1)

For identification of a wetland, the State Government, for wetlands under categories
A and B and the District Magistrate, for wetlands under category C, shall take
cognizance of proposals received from the proponents within sixty days from the
date of receipt and the proposal shall include :(a) broad geographic delineation of the wetland;

(b) its zone of influence along with a map (not necessarily to the scale);
(c) the size of the wetland;
(d) threats to the wetland;
(e) activities needing regulation;

(f) account of pre-existing rights and privileges, consistent or not


consistent with the ecological health of the wetland; etc.
(2)

The proposals received shall be referred to a Research Institute/University having


relevant multi-disciplinary expertise related to wetlands, identified by the State
Government, to conduct survey of the wetland, if not already surveyed and it shall
prepare a preliminary document which shall have information with respect to all the
criteria earmarked in rule 5 of the rules.

(3)

The proposals as mentioned in the preliminary document prepared by the


professional body shall be referred to the district authorities for conducting public
consultation and the district authorities after completion of the public consultations
as detailed in Appendix II, shall submit report to the State Government within one
hundred twenty days of the receipt of such request.

(4)

Research Institute/University shall prepare a Comprehensive Document using the


information obtained as per sub-rules (1), (2) and (3) above, based on the terms of
reference for identification of wetlands as prescribed by the Central Government.

(5)

The appraisal of the proposals, as contained in the comprehensive document, for


identification of a wetland or allowing activities provided in sub-rule (2) of Rule 4
shall be completed by State Wetlands Appraisal Committee and District Wetlands
Appraisal Committee concerned within 90 days from the date of receipt of the
proposal complete in all respects referred to by the State Government or District
Magistrate, as the case may be.

(6)

For wetlands under category A, the proposals so appraised by the State Wetlands
Appraisal Committee shall be referred to the Central Wetlands, Appraisal Committee,
along with its recommendations and for wetlands under category B and C, the
proposals shall be referred by the State Wetlands Appraisal Committee to State
Wetlands Regulatory Authority and District Wetlands Appraisal Committee, to the
District Magistrate, respectively. Central Wetlands, Appraisal Committee, State
Wetlands Appraisal Committee and District Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall
appraise the proposal and submit its recommendations to the regulatory authorities
within ninety days of the date of receipt.

(7)

The Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority in the case of the wetlands under
category A, State Wetlands Regulatory Authority in case of wetlands under category
B and the District Magistrate in case of the wetlands under category C shall
communicate their decisions on the proposals submitted, within a reasonable period
not exceeding six months from the date of receipt of the proposal from the respective
Appraisal Committees.

(8)

The comprehensive document for the wetlands already identified under the existing
schemes or programmes of the Government, for which information as per the criteria
given in rule 5 of these rules, is available, may be got prepared by the State
Wetlands Regulatory Authority or District Wetlands Regulatory Authority through the
professional body following the procedures as mentioned in sub-rule (3) above, and
submitted to the respective authorities for decision.

(9)

The final notification shall be displayed in public places in English as well as


vernacular languages.

10

Overlapping Legal Provisions.(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

The wetlands lying within the protected areas of National Parks and Wildlife
Sanctuaries shall be regulated under the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act,
1972.
The wetlands lying within the notified forest areas shall be regulated by the
provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980; and
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
While the gaps, if any, under the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927;
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972; and Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 shall be
plugged by invoking provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The wetlands situated outside the protected or notified forest areas shall be
regulated by the relevant provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

11

Enforcement of regulated activities.-

(1)
In view of the multi-disciplinary character of the wetlands, the Central
Wetlands Appraisal Committee, State Wetlands Appraisal Committee and District
Wetlands Appraisal Committee shall be identified with reference to the activities to be
regulated as given below:

(a)

The identified activities for management and wise use of wetlands


situated within the forest and protected areas shall be enforced by the
forest department.

(b)

The identified activities for management and wise use of wetlands


situated outside the forests for category A and / category B wetlands
shall be enforced by the Department or Agencies dealing with the
particular activity in the region as assigned by the State Government
and the identified activities for wetlands under category C will be
enforced by the agency as assigned by the District Magistrate.

12. Appeals against the Decisions of the Regulatory Authorities.The appeals against the decisions of the regulatory authorities shall lie with the
Appellate Authority at the Central level and Environment Tribunals at the State or
District level.

13. Obligations of the Enforcement Agency.It shall be incumbent on the part of the Central Wetlands Appraisal Committee or
State Wetlands Appraisal Committee or District Wetlands Appraisal Committee to
submit an Annual Compliance Report of the enforcement functions performed in
respect of the regulated activities in the identified wetlands to the concerned
Regulatory Authorities.

14

Monitoring Mechanism.State Wetlands Regulatory Authority shall be responsible for monitoring the
compliance of provisions of these rules for wetlands falling under category A and
category B and District Magistrate for wetlands under category C.
*******

APPENDIX I

Guidelines for selection of professionals/experts for


being members of Regulatory Authorities/ Appraisal
Committees

The professionals and experts fulfilling the following eligibility criteria shall be
selected for being members of the Regulatory Authorities/ Appraisal Committees.

i. The members shall be below 70 years of age. However, in the event of nonavailability of or paucity of experts in a given field, the maximum age of a
member may be allowed upto 72 years. A member/chairperson can be
nominated for a second term.

ii.

The members shall be experts with requisite expertise and experience of at


least 15 years in the field/discipline of Aquatic Biology, Ecology, Hydrology,
Limnology, Forestry, Soil Chemistry, Watershed Management (including
ground water management), Sociology, Economics, Law and Public
Administration.

APPENDIX II

PROCEDURE FOR CONDUCT OF PUBLIC CONSULTATION

(1)
Public consultation shall be arranged in a time bound and transparent manner
ensuring widest possible participation in close proximity of the wetland proposed to be
identified for regulation.

(2)

The public consultation shall ordinarily have two components comprising of:

(a)

A public hearing at the site or in its close proximity- district wise, to be carried
out in the manner prescribed for ascertaining concerns of local affected
persons;

(b)

Obtain responses in writing from other stakeholders having a plausible stake in


the environmental and economic aspects of the proposal.

(3)

In case the project/activity site is extending beyond a State or a Union Territory, the
public hearing is mandated in each State or the Union Territory in which the
project/activity is situated and separate reference shall be made to the district
authorities concerned for holding the public consultation.

(4)

The concerned District Magistrate shall finalise the date, time and venue of the public
consultation within a reasonable period from the receipt of the proposal not
exceeding 30 days. An advertisement in one national daily and one vernacular daily
shall be published by the concerned regulatory authority inviting objections from
plausible stake holders.

(5)

In the event of cancellation of the public consultation due to unavoidable


circumstances, fresh date, time and venue shall be announced as per the procedures
laid.

(6)

The summary of the public consultation reflecting the views and concerns expressed
shall be recorded by the representative of the concerned agency undertaking the
public consultation and read over to the audience at the end of the proceedings and
the agreed minutes shall be signed and forwarded to the concerned regulatory
authority.

(7)

The public consultation shall be completed within 120 days from the date of receipt of
request.