How to save Tripura's lone Ramsar site? Let the locals live there 
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Agartala: The High Court of Tripura has rejected the Tripura government’s appeal for a Court direction to increase police deployment in and around the Rudrasagar lake, the only Ramsar convention site of the state. The Advocate General appearing for the state government sought a specific direction from the Court to increase the deployment of police personnel in the area to prevent illegal activities which are adversely affecting the health of the wetland.

“Mr S. S. Dey, learned Advocate General, assisted by Mr D. Bhattacharjee, learned G.A. appearing for the respondents has submitted before this Court to pass an order directing the State Government to deploy sufficient police force in and around the said project to curtail the activities of the miscreants. This Court is not in a position to appreciate the request made by the Advocate General since it is the domain of the State Government to take care about the law and order with sufficient police personnel and also to protect the tourism and the historic places of Tripura more particularly, the Rudrasagar Project in terms of environmental development. In the event, if the Court passes any order in this regard, then an impression would go that the Government has failed to maintain law and order and the judiciary has taken steps into the shoes of the executives. Since, it is not proper for the moment to consider this request; this Court is not entering into the same”, the Court order said.

The High Court Division Bench comprising Chief Justice T Amaranath Goud and Justice Arindam Lodh also directed the Chief Secretary of Tripura to file a detailed affidavit regarding what steps had been undertaken to maintain the water level of the wetland following the High Court’s verdict pronounced a few years back.

The High Court sought the report from the Chief Secretary that several departments of the state government have been made respondents in the Public Interest Litigation taken up on its own motion.

“Today, when the case is called, Principal Secretary, PWD (Water Resource), Government of Tripura was present before the Court and submits that with respect to his domain, the order of this Court in maintaining water body has been complied with but with regard to the other departments like Revenue and Irrigation etc., he cannot give any assurance. In view of above statement, this Court directs the Chief Secretary, Government of Tripura to file his affidavit with regard to the originality of the Rudrasagar Project and the water body in and around the Neermahal Palace and the present status of Rudrasagar and its water body and also the steps which have already been taken and the steps which are to be taken to restore the said project”, the Court order added.

The Court also empowered the state government to take necessary measures to maintain the law and order of the area.

Tripura High Court-appointed amicus curiae advocate Indrajit Chakraborty informed EastMojo that the sprawling wetland was once spread over 2,000 acres of land which makes it unique and rare.

Unfortunately, encroachments from different sides reduced the water levels of the wetlands and now it stands at somewhere close to 300 acres. The proposal of a sluice gate arises out of the argument of protecting the water levels of the water body.
“In the High Court judgment, it was clearly stated that the water level of Rudrasagar should be maintained at a minimum 11 meter RL (River Level). For that, a sluice gate is required to be installed at the Battali area over an artificially created stream which helps local communities to drain out water from the lake. The departments have informed the Court that the existing sluice gate which has nothing to do with the stream is enough to protect the water level. I am waiting for the Chief Secretary to respond on the issue because I am contemplating requesting the Court to visit the spot for physical verification,” Chakraborty pointed out.

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According to Chakraborty, the present Chief Secretary will be the third top official of the state department to be dragged into the case. Previous Chief Secretaries LK Gupta and U Venkateswarlu have submitted detailed affidavits related to the matter. Both the Chief Secretaries have admitted before the Court that huge areas of wetland had been converted into paddy lands. The next hearing of the case had been fixed for April 11 next.

The Court had earlier shut down three brick fields set up in proximity to the heritage site.

Also Read | Constitutional soln. not for just one community: Tripura Leader of Oppn

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