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New app to create wetlands database in Maharashtra

The Maharashtra Environment Department has created a mobile application to create a database on all the wetlands in the state. Dummy trials for the app will start next week. Department officials said there are 32,000 wetlands in the state, according to the atlas prepared by the Space Application Centre in Ahmedabad. But some of these are forest areas, salt pans and coastal regulation zones that have been wrongly marked as wetlands. A department official said village revenue officials across the state will verify on the ground which areas are wetlands and which are not and will upload the data in the app.

“We know where exactly a wetland is in a village of a particular district. Revenue officials in villages, called talathis, will do the ground verification of these wetlands. Some of the areas such as forest areas, salt pans and coastal regulation zone areas have been wrongly marked as wetlands. But these areas have separate regulations and will be excluded from the list,” said Satish Gavai, additional chief secretary of the department. Gavai added that after the completion of ground verification, the government will have comprehensive data on the wetlands in the state.

“During the ground verification, we will also report whether a wetland is being used for animals in villages or by people traditionally. So we will have a factual position about the wetlands and can take measures for preservation without disturbing life in the villages,” he said.

Officials said the total number of wetlands is likely to reduce from 32,000 after the verification. The mobile app for the preservation of wetlands was developed on directions issued by the Supreme Court in a public interest litigation, said an official. “After dummy trials, the application will be launched. The ground verification is likely to be completed by June,” said an official.

Earlier this week, the department also formed the State Wetland Authority headed by the environment minister according to provisions of the Wetland Conservation and Management Rules, 2017. It has also set up a technical committee to assist the authority on several issues, including preparation draft management plans of wetlands, said an official.

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