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Saving wetlands highest priority for govt: Adhikari

Saving wetlands highest priority for govt: Adhikari

Kolkata: State Environment minister Suvendu Adhikari said on Wednesday said that the government assigns highest priority towards saving wetlands and has protected 12,500 hectares of such land in recent times.

"We have a dedicated team which watches out to thwart any attempts to fill up existing wetlands as part of our mission to save waterbodies. We take the help of police administration during drives and have recently prevented two to three attempts of illegal construction in wetland areas," Adhikari said on the sidelines of a seminar by West Bengal Biodiversity Board, with the theme 'Mainstreaming Biodiversity: Convergence of Stakeholders for Sustainability.'

Responding to a poser on the fate of the proposed 6 km flyover project over a part of East Kolkata Wetlands mooted by former Environment minister Sovan Chatterjee, Adhikari said that the new committee on wetlands will take up the issue at the first meeting, which will be held soon.

It may be mentioned that a section of environmentalists has raised objections against the construction of the flyover on East Kolkata Wetlands, which is a Ramsar site. "We will not do anything which can cause damage to the waterbodies," Adhikari reiterated.

The minister said the department has already formed 432 block management committees (BMC) across the state, where the members will campaign in their respective areas to save wetlands and the target was forming 467 BMCs.

The minister pressed for a massive campaign to conserve biodiversity in the state and said that his department will encourage schools to paint pictures with the message of conservation of biodiversity on their walls. He maintained that 10 schools have already responded to the initiative.

"We are also welcoming the formation of biodiversity clubs at schools, for which the state Environment department will provide all logistics and infrastructural support," he added.

Adhikari assured that there is nothing to panic about the air quality index in the city, which was low during the winter. "Particulate Matter 10 and Particulate Matter 2.5 fluctuated over alarming level at certain times in this season but the NO2 and SO2 levels were not much of a concern. The fluctuation of air quality index during winter has been a typical phenomenon for the past 25 years," he said.

The state is going for tree plantation on a massive scale and has already stopped the entry of vehicles aged over 15 years into the city, to address the issue of air quality.

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