NGT slaps ₹10 crore penalty on Kerala government for failure to protect Ramsar sites

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NGT slaps ₹10 crore penalty on Kerala government for failure to protect Ramsar sites

The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in New Delhi has imposed a fine of Rs 10 crore on the Kerala government for failing to protect the Vembanad and Ashtamudi lakes, listed as Ramsar sites.

An overview of the news

  • A principal bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said that as per the 'polluter pays principle', the fines imposed should be deposited in the ring-fenced account.

  • The tribunal said that the amount to be utilized under the authority of the chief secretary should be employed for conservation or restoration measures.

  • These wetlands have become polluted due to the accumulation of pharmaceutical waste, plastic waste, domestic waste and slaughterhouse waste.

  • Vembanad, the largest wetland ecosystem in Kerala was designated as a Ramsar site in the year 2002.

  • According to a study by the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, the water holding capacity and ecology of Vembanad Lake has decreased by 85% in the last 120 years due to encroachment and destruction.

  • Ashtamudi Lake is home to many plant and bird species, which was included in the Ramsar list in August 2002.

  • Presently there is a problem of waste accumulation at this site.

What are Wetlands?

  • Wetlands are vital not only for the ecosystems but our climate, providing essential services such as water regulation, flood control, and water purification.

  • Wetlands are also capable of absorbing carbon dioxide.

  • Wetlands are called “Kidneys of the Earth”.

What are Ramsar sites?

  • A Ramsar site is a wetland site specifically designated for international importance as a waterfowl habitat under the Ramsar Convention.

  • Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental environment treaty established in 1975 by UNESCO.

  • Ramsar refers to wetlands of international importance in terms of site ecology, botany, zoology or hydrology.

National Green Tribunal 

  • It deals with cases relating to the environment protection and conservation of forest.

  • It was set up in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.

  • The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but is guided by principles of natural justice.

  • New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are other four places of sitting of the Tribunal.\

  • Chairperson  : Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel

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