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A plea claiming construction of permanent structures and chopping of trees inside Surajpur wetlands in Greater Noida today prompted the National Green Tribunal to seek Environment Ministry's response on the issue.
A bench headed by Justice U D Salvi issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, UP Irrigation Department, state pollution control board, Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority and Forest and Wildlife Department of the state while seeking their reply by May 30.
A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, and has a distinct ecosystem.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Vikrant Kumar Tongad against alleged construction in the Surajpur wetland situated in the reserved forests in Gautam Budh Nagar Forest Division and illegal felling of trees by forest officials in the reserved forest area.
The plea said that as per the Wetland Rules, 2010 any construction of permanent structure is prohibited in the eco-sensitive area. However, the state Forest Department has constructed a road for visitors on the wetland which hosts large populations of fauna.
"Direct that no activity is undertaken in violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and permanent structures constructed in violation of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 in Surajpur Wetland and Reserve Forest area of Surajpur and the area be restored to its original position," the plea, filed through advocates Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, said.
Tongad has claimed that there is "illegal" construction of a pathway and an "Eco Park" taking place within Surajpur wetland and its catchment area in gross violation to Rule 4 of Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010.
"Construction of Sports City and of a 130m wide road connecting Noida and Greater Noida is being undertaken by the Greater Noida Authority. These construction activities are being undertaken on an area that forms the 'Kheri-Bhanauta' storm water drain which passes through Sunpura village and then through the Kheri-Bhanauta area to eventually end one kilometer before the Surajpur wetland. This water is an important feeder to the wetland in question.
"Currently, the Sports City is in the preliminary stages of construction... The drainage is being covered with soil and will not be able to supply water to the Surajpur wetland. However, the impacts of Sports City and of construction of the road on the wetland have not been taken into consideration," the plea alleged.