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Locals take up wetland conservation

KOLKATA, 17 JULY: The residents of Chowbaga today said they will not allow the filling up of anymore waterbodies in the area.
The area falls under the East Kolkata Wetlands, declared a Ramsar Site.
Ms Sanchita Mandol, MMIC, Environment, visited the waterbodies that are being filled illegally, today. “Whatever is happening there is wrong. I will inform the environment minister and minister for fisheries and will ensure that action is taken against the culprits,” she said.
Several waterbodies in areas like Dhapa, Chowbaga, Pashchim Chowbaga and Bantala are being filled clandestinely during the night. While some of the ponds have been filled completely, in some of the cases, the bed of the pond or the lake is seen to be rising day by day with fine silt-like soil spilled on the banks.
It may be mentioned that over the past three decades, a large number of bheris in East Kolkata Wetlands were filled up by builders in connivance with political leaders to set up housing complexes. Though the police were aware of this, they looked the other way, allowing completion of the construction. The civic bodies later mutated the properties, thereby giving them a legal stamp.
The councillor of the area, ward no 108, Mr Partha Roy Chowdhury, said, “The ponds and the land belong to the farmers. They were being forced to give away their land to the promoters who also fill the ponds. We will not let this happen anymore.”He said that there has to be a way to ensure both that the farmers do not lose their land and that ecological balance is maintained.
An official of the East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority said the East Calcutta Township was operational before the legally recommended outline and Development Control Plan for the eastern fringes were published in December 1997.
Collectery Bheri and Athero-bigha Bheri are example of lakes in Chowbaga filled over night. Not only Chowbagha, other parts of the East Kolkata Wetlands are also under threat. Ms Ila Nandi, councillor of ward no 17 in Bidhanagar Municipality, said that the area her ward covers, a part of which is Choinabi, is not a part of East Kolkata Wetlands. “East Kolkata Wetland is what you see near Chingrighata and Science City,” she said.

Soma Basu

Soma Basu

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