Sunday, June 6, 2010

Central and State wetlands laws likely to be in conflict

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government is contemplating amendment of the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act to regulate use of watercourses and wetlands. The draft Bill has already been prepared.

However, some of its provisions are likely to be in legal conflict with the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules proposed to be notified by the Union government, though the objectives of both are same or similar. The Centre published the final draft of the regulatory framework for wetlands conservation for comments recently. If notified, its provisions will override the State legislation.

The Union and the State governments are each proposing regulation against the background of unbridled encroachment and exploitation of backwaters, rivers and other waterbodies over the years. A third of the countrys wetlands, including those in Kerala, have been wiped out or severely degraded.

Each government is proposing formation of authorities to check encroachment and regulate use of wetlands. However, the State government is opposed to the Central legislation on the ground that it takes away its powers. And as such, the State amendment is a counter-measure to Central intervention in an area long neglected by the State.

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