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25th March 2023 (11 Topics)

Penalty on Kerala government for failure to protect Ramsar sites

Context

The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a penalty of ?10 crore on the Kerala government for its failure to check the indiscriminate pollution of the listed Ramsar sites.

Key-highlights of the Order:

  • The order by NGT was made in lines with a petition alleging failure of statutory and administrative authorities in taking remedial action for protection of the Vembanad and Ashtamudi lakes hit by illegal waste dumping.

Polluter pays principle

The 'polluter pays' principle is the commonly accepted practice that those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment.

  • The penalty was imposed on the basis of the ‘polluter pays principle’ which had to be deposited in a ring-fenced account to be operated under the authority of the Chief Secretary.
  • The penalty of ?10 crore has been imposed which had to be made within a month.
  • The penalty will be utilised for conservation/restoration measures by preparing an action plan to be preferably executed within six months.

About Ramsar Sites:

  • These are wetlands deemed to be of "international importance" under the Ramsar Convention.
  • It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the convention was signed in
  • Ramsar sites are trans-boundary in which case more than one Contracting Party is responsible for their conservation and management.
  • The inclusion in the list is for-
    • the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands,
    • recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their
    • Economic value
    • Cultural value
    • Scientific value
    • Recreational value
  • It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands.

Vembanad Lake:


  • This is the largest lake in Kerala and the longest Lake in India.
  • The lake has its source in four rivers, Meenachil, Achankovil, Pampa and Manimala
  • In 2002, it was included in the list of wetlands of international importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention.
  • It is the second-largest Ramsar site in India only after the Sundarbans in West Bengal.
  • The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the east coast of the lake.
  • In 2019, Willingdon Island, a seaport located in the city of Kochi, was carved out of Vembanad Lake.

 Ashtamudi Lake:

  • Ashtamudi Lake is a large freshwater lake located in the Kollam district of Kerala, India.
  • It is known for its unique ecosystem and biodiversity, and is an important tourist destination in the region.
  • Ashtamudi Lake is significant because it has been recognized as a Ramsar site, which is a wetland site, designated of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • The lake also plays an important role in supporting the livelihoods of local communities through fishing and tourism.

National Green Tribunal (NGT):

  • It is a special body established under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010).
  • Aim: To effectively and expeditiously deal with cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • NGT Act provides for special jurisdiction in court to deal with disputes arising under a set of seven rules (mentioned in Schedule I of the Act) -
    • Water Act
    • Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972
    • Forest (Conservation) Act 1980
    • Public Liability Insurance Act 1991
    • Biological Diversity Act 2002
    • National Green Tribunal Act 2010

NGT has five residences; New Delhi is the principal place of sitting.

  • Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are four others.

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