GOVERNMENT OF WEST BENGAL
No. 404-L. Dated 31st March, 2006.
West Bengal Act VII of 2006
THE EAST KOLKATA WETLANDS (CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT) ACT, 2006.
An Act to provide for conservation and management of the East Kolkata wetlands and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.
Whereas the wetlands act as regulator of water regime, source for underground water recharging, mechanism for waste water treatment, air quality purifier and store of water for fire-fighting and have great ecological significance for human life;
And whereas there is an increasing pressure on land for human settlement leading to filling up of the wetlands;
And whereas the East Kolkata wetlands are ecologically and socio-economically very important;
And whereas it is expedient to provide for conservation and management of the East Kolkata wetlands and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto;
It is hereby enacted in the Fifty-seventh Year of the Republic of India, by the Legislature of West Bengal, as follows:-
1. Short title and commencement.
(1) This Act may be called the East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Act, 2006.
(2) It shall be deemed to have come into force on the 16th day of November, 2005.
In this Act. unless the context otherwise requires,-
(a) “Authority” means the East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority constituted under section 3;
(b) “Chairperson” means the Chairperson of the Authority;
(c) “East Kolkata wetlands” means such of the areas included in the list of Ramsar Sites as are specified in Schedule I and shown in the map in Schedule II.
Explanation I.- For the purposes of this Act, “Ramsar Sites” means the wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention.
Explanation II.- For the purposes of this Act, “Ramsar Convention” means the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Ramsar, Iran;
(d) “land” includes any wetland;
(e) “Land and Land Reforms Department” means the Land and Land Reforms Department of the Government of West Bengal;
(f) “local body” means a Panchayat within the meaning of clause (1) of Article 243B, or a Municipality within the meaning of clause (1) of Article 243Q, of the Constitution or, in the absence of a Panchayat or Municipality, an institution of self-Government constituted or established under any other provision of the Constitution or by or under any Central Act or State Act;
(g) “Member-Secretary” means the Member-Secretary of the Authority;
(h) “notification” means a notification published in the Official Gazette-,
(i) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act;
(j) “State Government” means the Government of West Bengal in the Department of Environment;
(k) “water body” includes any land holding water.
3. Constitution of East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority.
(1) The State Government shall, with effect from such date as it may by notification, appoint, constitute an Authority to be called the East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority.
(2) The Authority shall consist of the following Members-
(i) Chief Secretary to the Government of West Bengal – Chairperson;
(ii) Secretary, Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal, – Member-Secretary;
(iii) Secretary, Department of Urban Development Government of West Bengal, – Member;
(iv) Secretary, Department of Irrigation and Waterways. Government of West Bengal – Member;
(v) Secretary, Department of Fisheries, Government of West Bengal, – Member;
(vi) Secretary, Department of Forest, Government of West Bengal, – Member;
(vii) Secretary, Department of Municipal Affairs Government of West Bengal, – Member;
(viii) Secretary, Department of Land and Land Reform Government of West Bengal – Member;
(ix) Secretary. Department of Panchayat and Rural Development, Government of West Bengal, – Member;
(x) Chairman, West Bengal Pollution Control Board, – Member;
(xi) Member-Secretary, West Bengal Pollution Control Board, – Member;
(a) the non-Government organisations having expertise in the field of wetland conservation;
(b) the non-Government organisations having expertise in the field of wetland management; and
(c) the fishermen’s co-operative societies formed for the purpose under the West Bengal Inland Fisheries Act, 1984,
(xvii) one representative of the Institute of Environmental Studies and Wetland Management, Kolkata, to be nominated by the State Government. – Member.
(3) The Authority shall be a body corporate with the name specified in sub-section (1) having perpetual succession and a common seal with power to acquire, hold and dispose of property and to contract and may, by the aforesaid name, sue or be sued.
4. Functions and powers of Authority.
(1) The functions and powers of the East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority shall be-
(a) to demarcate the boundaries of the East Kolkata wetlands on the field as shown in the map in Schedule II;
(b) to take measures or make an order to stop, undo and prevent any unauthorised development project in, or unauthorised use of, or unauthorised act on, the East Kolkata wetlands;
(c) to make an order directing demolition or alteration of any hoarding, frame, post, kiosk, structure, neon-signed or sky-sign, erected or exhibited illegally for the purpose of advertisement on any land within the East Kolkata wetlands;
(d) to make an order to prevent, prohibit or restrict any mining, quarrying, blasting, or other operation of like nature, for the purpose of protecting or conserving the East Kolkata wetlands;
(e) to take measures to abate pollution in the East Kolkata wetlands and conserve the Dora, fauna and biodiversity in general;
(f) to prepare action plans conforming to the resolutions taken and recommendations made, from time to time, under the Ramsar Convention and to update the land use maps of the East Kolkata wetlands;
(g) to implement and monitor the activities specified in the action plans;
(h) to promote research and disseminate findings of such research among the stakeholders;
(i) to raise awareness about the utility of the wetlands in general and the East Kolkata wetlands in particular;
(j) to promote basic conservation principles like sewage fed pisciculture and eco-tourism in the East Kolkata wetlands;
(k) to enforce land use control in the substantially water body oriented areas and other areas in the East Kolkata wetlands;
(l) to detect changes of ecological character and in land use in the East Kolkata wetlands;
(m) to establish network with other Ramsar Sites in India;
(n) to conduct inquiry or scientific study for any purpose of this Act;
(o) to constitute expert committee for any purpose of this Act;
(p) to enter any land or premises, including to collect samples of air, water, soil and other biological resources, for any purpose of this Act;
(q) to call for relevant records and documents and information from any Department, organisation or local body for any purpose of this Act;
(xii) Chief Executive Officer, Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority, – Member;
(xiii) Commissioner, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, – Member;
(xiv) District Magistrate, 24-Parganas (South), – Member;
(xv) District Magistrate, 24-Parganas (North), – Member;
(xvi) three persons to be nominated by the State Government of whom one each shall be from amongst the representatives of – Member;
(r) to do such act, or pass such order, which may be necessary and expedient for the purpose of conservation and management of the East Kolkata wetlands.
(2) The Authority shall, before making an order under clause (b), or clause (c), or clause (d) of sub-section (1), give the person affected thereby a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
5. Term of office, allowances, etc. of nominated Member of Authority.
(1) The term of office and allowances of a nominated Member of the Authority shall be such as may be prescribed:
Provided that the State Government may, if it thinks fit, terminate, by order and for the reasons to be recorded in writing, the appointment of any nominated Member before the expiry of his term of office.
(2) A nominated Member of the Authority may resign his membership under his hand addressed to the State Government and, on acceptance of such resignation by the State Government, he shall cease to be a Member as such.
(3) Any vacancy, by resignation, death or otherwise, of a nominated Member shall be filled by fresh nomination by the State Government.
6. Meeting of Authority
(1) The Authority shall meet at such place and time, and the meeting shall be conducted in such manner, as may be prescribed.
(2) All orders and decisions of the Authority shall be authenticated by the Chairperson or by such other Member or such officer of the Authority as may be authorised in this behalf by the Chairperson.
7. Vacancy, etc. not to invalidate acts or proceedings of Authority.
No act or proceeding of the Authority shall be called in question on the ground merely of the existence of any vacancy in, or any defect in the constitution of, the Authority.
8. Officers and employees of Authority.
(1) The Authority may appoint such officers and employees as it considers necessary for the efficient performance of its functions.
(2) The method of recruitment and the terms and conditions of service of the officers and employees shall be such as may be prescribed.
Explanation.- For the purposes of sub-section (1) and sub-section (2), the expression “officers and employees” does not include the Chairperson or the Member-Secretary or any other Member of the Authority.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) the State Government, on request of the Authority, may, by order in writing require for performance of any function of the Authority, services of any officer or employee of the State Government by way of duties in addition to his normal duties.
9. Maintenance and preservation of land in East Kolkata wetlands.
Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, every person holding any land in the East Kolkata wetlands shall maintain and preserve such land in a manner that its area is not diminished, or its character is not changed, or it is not converted for any purpose other than the purpose for which it was settled or previously held, except with the previous sanction of the Authority under section 10.
10. Procedure for granting sanction.
(1) Any person holding a land in the East Kolkata wetlands may apply, in such manner as may be prescribed, to the Authority for change of character or mode of use of the land.
(2) The Authority shall, on receipt of the application, examine the merit of the case and, if necessary, inspect the proposed site.
(3) After examination of the case and inspection, if any. of the proposed site under sub-section (2), the the Authority shall refer the case to the Collector of the concerned District for taking necessary action for issuance of an order under section 4C of the West Bengal Land Reforms Act, 1955.
(4) On receipt of the order from the Collector of the concerned District, the Authority may pass, in such form and with such restrictions and conditions as may be prescribed, an order granting sanction for change of character or mode of use of the land.
Provided that if the sanction may result in filling up of any water body, the Authority shall, prior to granting sanction under this sub-section, require the person to create at an appropriate place within the East Kolkata Wetlands a water body of which the area shall not be less than the area of the water body which may be so filled up.
(5) Nothing in this section shall empower the Authority to grant sanction for change of character or mode of use of a land unless the change is for improvement or upkeep of the local environment and its surroundings.
11. Restoration of land to original character or mode of use.
(1) If the Authority is, either suo motu or on receipt of any information, satisfied that the character or mode of use of a land is being changed or has been changed in contravention of any provision of this Act, it may, by order in writing, require the person responsible for the change to restore the land, at his own expense, to the original character or mode of use within such period as may be specified in the order and, in case of default by such person, undertake the restoration by itself and recover the cost thereof as arrears of land-revenue:
Provided that before passing the order the Authority shall give the person a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
(2) The Authority may use appropriate technology and method in determining whether a land comprises or has comprised a wetland or whether water is being or has been drawn from a wetland so as to change the character or mode of use of the wetland or whether a wetland is being or has been filled up partially or fully or whether a wetland is being or has been encroached upon in any manner.
12. Fund of Authority.
The Authority shall have its own fund and the sums which may be paid to the Authority by the State Government and all other receipts, by way of grants, gifts, donations, benefactions or otherwise, of the Authority shall be carried to the fund and all payments by the Authority shall be made therefrom.
13. Accounts and audit.
(1) The Authority shall maintain proper accounts and other relevant records and prepare an annual statement of accounts in such form as may be prescribed.
(2) The annual accounts of the Authority shall be audited by the Accountant-General, West Bengal.
(3) The Accountant-General, West Bengal, shall have the same rights, privileges and authority in connection with such audit as the Accountant-General, West Bengal, generally has in connection with the audit of Government accounts and, in particular, shall have the right to demand the production of books, accounts, connected vouchers and other documents and papers and to inspect the office of the Authority.
14. Annual report.
The Authority shall prepare tor each financial year, in such form and at such time each year as may be prescribed, its annual report giving a full account of its activities during such financial year and forward a copy thereof to the State Government.
15. Powers and duties of Chairperson and Member Secretary.
(1) The Chairperson shall exercise such powers and discharge such duties as may be prescribed or as may, from time to time, be delegated to him by the Authority.
(2) The Member-Secretary shall exercise such powers and discharge such duties as may be prescribed or as may, from time to time, be delegated to him by the Authority or the Chairperson.
16. Directions by State Government.
The Authority shall be guided, in performance of its functions, by such directions as may be given, from time to time, to it by the State Government:
Provided that no such direction shall be inconsistent with any provision of this Act.
17. Power to include any area in, or enlarge any area of East Kolkata wetlands.
(1) The State Government may, if it is of opinion that it is necessary or expedient in the public interest so to do, by notification, include any area in, or enlarge any area of, the East Kolkata wetlands and, thereupon, Schedule I and Schedule II shall be deemed to have been amended accordingly.
(2) Every notification issued under sub-section (1) shall, as soon as may be after it is issued, be laid before the State Legislature.
(1) Whoever fails to comply with or contravenes any provision of this Act or the rules made, or orders issued, thereunder shall be guilty of an offence and shall, in respect of each such failure or contravention, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to one lac rupees or with both and, in case such failure or contravention continues, with an additional fine which may extend upto five thousand rupees for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for first such failure or contravention.
(2) Every such offence shall be cognizable and non-bailable.
19. Offences by companies.
(1) Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company, every person, who at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:
Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to, any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
Explanation.- For the purposes of this section,- (a) “company” means any body corporate, and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and (b) “director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.
20. Offences by officers of State Government or local bodies.
If any officer of the State Government or of a local body permits or neglects doing, or wilfully fails to do, any act whereby an offence under this Act is committed, he shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the service law applicable to him for the time being in force, be deemed to have committed under such service law misconduct in discharge of his official duties and be subjected to the disciplinary proceedings and penalties accordingly.
21. Protection of action taken in good faith.
No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the Authority or any Member, officer or employee thereof or the State Government or any officer or employee thereof for anything, or any damage caused or likely to be caused by anything, which is in good faith done or intended to done under this Act or the rules made thereunder.
22. Act to override other laws.
The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force or in any contract, express or implied, or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law or in any custom or usage.
23. Power to make rules.
(1) The State Government may, by notification, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.
(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters:-
(a) the term of office and allowances of a nominated Member of the Authority under sub-section (1) of section 5;
(b) the place and time and manner of conducting the meeting of the Authority under section 6;
(c) the method of recruitment and the terms and conditions of service of the officers and employees of the Authority under sub-section (2) of section 8;
(d) the manner of making application for change of character or mode of use of the land under sub-section (1) of section 10;
(e) the form and the restrictions and conditions of an order granting sanction for change of character or mode of use of the land under sub-section (4) of section 10;
(f) the form of maintaining accounts and other relevant records and preparing an annual statement of accounts under sub-section (1) of section 13;
(g) the form and time for preparing the annual report under section 14:
(h) the powers and duties to be exercised and discharged by the Chairperson and the Member-Secretary under section 15;
(i) any other matter which is required to be, or may be. prescribed.
(3) All rules made under this section shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before the State Legislature, while it is in session, for a total period of fourteen days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if. before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, the State Legislature agrees in making any modification in the rules, or the State Legislature agrees that such rules should not be made, the rules shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under those rules.
24. Power to remove difficulties.
(1) If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the State Government may, for the purpose of removing such difficulty, by order published in the Official Gazette. make, such provisions, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, as it may deem to be necessary or expedient:
Provided that no such order shall be made after the expiry of a period of two years from the commencement of this Act.
(2) Every order made under sub-section (1) shall, as soon as may be after it is made, be laid before the State Legislature.
25. Repeal and saving.
(1) The East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Ordinance, 2005, is hereby repealed.
(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, anything done or any action taken under the said Ordinance shall be deemed to have been validly done or taken under the corresponding provisions of this Act.