State to follow Vasai model to save wetlands, put onus on plot owners

State to follow Vasai model to save wetlands, put onus on plot owners

Vasai taluka in Thane district has emerged as the leader in fighting against wetland destruction and its method will now be followed across the state.

The local tehsildar has issued recovery notices to landlords for removal of debris and restoration of wetlands. It has so far issued notices for recovery of Rs 19.28 lakh. And if any landowner fails to pay the fine, it would be entered in the land records, which would make sale of the plots difficult.

Working on a similar line, the Thane tehsil too has already begun issuing recovery notices to landlords. S Pardesi, Thane tehsil sub-divisional officer, said they have issued notices to landlords and in Kopri and Saket they have removed the obstruction to the inflow of tidal water and planted 20,000 mangrove saplings over six acres.

On Monday, the panel appointed by the high court to protect wetlands decided to follow the Vasai model. Panel chairman Jagdish Patil, who is also the Konkan divisional commissioner, directed that when a complaint is received, officials from the civic department, revenue, police forest would inspect the site, estimate the cost of debris removal and restoration and issue a recovery notice to the landowner. Most debris dumping and reclamation has been happening on private mangrove lands.

“In the past few meetings we have been discussing what kind of action would prove a deterrent. The Vasai officials have done a remarkable job in preventing debris dumping,” said Jayram Gowda, member-secretary, high court panel for protecting wetlands. Gowda said soon citizens can call the forest toll free number 1926 to lodge complaints about wetland destruction.

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