Environmentalists protest construction in East Kolkata Wetlands

Kolkata : Environmentalists and activists Thursday called for protecting the East Kolkata Wetlands – a Ramsar site or wetlands of international importance – from unbridled construction activities of the West Bengal government, including filling up of parts of the vast expanse of water bodies that help in tackling Kolkata’s waste.

Lying to the east of the city, bordering the eastern metropolis and spreading across two districts (North and South 24 Parganas), the 12,500 hectare area is home to the world’s largest wastewater-fed aquaculture system.

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Teeming with flora and fauna and a variety of micro-organisms, the mesh of water bodies act as cleansers of waste water, like the kidneys in humans.

Comprising a large number of water bodies and sewage-fed fisheries, nearly 50 percent of the dynamic wetlands has fallen prey to elaborate construction projects like the east-west Metro corridor and Eco Tourism park, said Nobo Dutta, convenor of the environment platform Sabuj Mancha.

The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Act, 2006, was enacted by the state government to regulate the conservation and management of the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW), which was placed in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance in 2002, a list named after the Iran town where the agreement was signed.

“The state government is violating the law. The site cannot be touched. We are protesting against the filling up of Captain Bheri area within the wetlands for the Eco Tourism park as well as another area near Patuli for the metro corridor,” Dutta told IANS, adding that the EKW management committee formed by the state government has failed to protect the region.

Earlier ,this area used to provide a ecological buffer but parts of it have been transformed into garbage dumps.

The rampant construction initiatives have also upset the ecological balance.

“The wetlands are Ramsar site. They are the kidneys of the city. The multitude of organisms that are present clean the waste water through, This blatant disregard needs to stop,” he said.