Wetland protection: HC asks four dist collectors to file affidavits

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court has directed the collectors of Khurda, Puri, Ganjam and Kendrapara districts to submit affidavits in connection with the protection of wetlands in Chilika and Bhitarkanika.

A bench of Chief Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Bidyut Ranjan Sarangi has issued the direction in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the HC itself in pursuance of an earlier order of the Supreme Court.

During the hearing of a petition regarding protection of wetlands, the Supreme Court had directed the Chief Justices of 15 states to file PILs. As Orissa has two wetlands each in Chilika and Bhitarkanika, the HC filed the PIL.

The HC had earlier appointed advocate Mohit Agarwal as an amicus curiae and directed Orissa High Court Bar Association president and senior lawyer Ashok Kumar Parija to help him in the case.

During the hearing of the case, the HC had directed individuals to implead themselves as party to the case. Subsequently, the secretaries to the Revenue and Disaster Management and Fisheries departments and officials of other departments impleaded themselves as parties to the case.

Meanwhile, during the hearing, the Chilika development authority had submitted an affidavit regarding preservation of wetlands. In the petition, the development authority stated that several proposals have been made for development works of Chilika and demolition of illegal prawn enclosures.

Amicus curiae Agarwal and his associate Parija had informed the court about various problems of Chilika and Bhitarkanika wetlands and its prevention. Agarwal and Parija had recommended the demolition of illegal prawn enclosures at Chilika.

“The oil released from motorised boats at Chilika and Bhitarkanika pollute the water. Besides, illegal prawn enclosures are also water pollutants. Therefore, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon is caving in day-by-day,” the amicus curiae had told the court and made several proposals for its prevention.



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