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Penalty on Kerala for failure to protect Ramsar Sites

Published: 31st Mar, 2023

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.
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