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With just one meeting, wetlands authority turns ‘dry’

It’s nearing a year since the “Goa State Wetlands Authority” was constituted by the previous government, but precious little has moved on the front with the authority meeting only once since it’s inception and no significant decisions being taken till date.

11th July 2017, 10:30 Hrs
the goan I networkrPANAJIr rMember of the Santa Cruz village level biodiversity committee Arturo D’Souza, who has been eager to ensure that the Bondvoll lake in Santa Cruz is notified as a wetland, while speaking to The Goan has regretted that unless notified, wetlands in the state remain vulnerable to land filling and other ‘development’. r“Exactly a year back a 20-member authority headed by Chief Minister with the Forest Minister as vice-chairman that met for the first time on August 19 had resolved to start identifying conserving and using wetlands and their resources in the state,” D’Souza lamented. r“But till date nothing has been done in this regard. The nodal agencies were supposed to meet every month as directed by the NGT. The State governments were supposed to identify wetlands within its jurisdiction at the earliest as per an affidavit it swore before the National Green Tribunal. But till date nothing has been done,” D’Souza added. rSpeaking to The Goan, expert member on the body, G N Nayak, admitted that things are “moving slow” and that it was up to the government to get things moving on this front. r“We did meet to discuss issues like idol immersion in water bodies, dumping of solid waste in water bodies and sub-committees have been constituted to look into this matter,” Nayak told The Goan. rHe, however said, nothing has been done by the government to study and gather baseline data for wetlands in the State so that it can be added to the central list. r“It was my suggestion that during this term we get at least two to three wetlands in Goa added to the central list. For this we need to gather data round the year on physicochemical, biochemical and properties of the wetland which needs data of several years,” Nayak said. r“But it is up to the Department of Environment to sanction these projects,” he said. rThe Goa State Wetland Authority is headed by the Chief Minister as the Chairman and the Minister of Environment as the Deputy Chairman. In the current situation, the chief minister is both. rMembers of the authority have confirmed that the authority has met only once at its inaugural meeting where they were presented with a study compiled by the Ministry ofrr No significant decisions taken till dater Members fear wetlands remain vulnerable to land filling, ‘development’r Nothing done to identify, conserve wetlands & use their resourcesr Nodal agencies were supposed to meet every month as directed by NGTr No move to study, gather baseline data for wetlands so that it can be added to central listr No real intention to keep authority functioningrrAUTHORITY’S POWER & FUNCTIONS r Preparing inventory of wetlands in respective jurisdictionr Drawing list of wetlands to be regulated under provisions of the rulesr Demarcation of wetland boundaries & preparation of land use mapsr Notifying wetlands to be regulated under these rulesr Developing integrated plans etc.