Expert panel to deal with protection of water bodies

Committee to advise govt on restoration plans

Shillong, July 28: An expert committee was constituted to advise the government on cleaning and rejuvenating  water bodies in the state.

Chief Conservator of Forest (wild life) PR Marak, who is the member secretary of the committee and DFO, Forest Utilisation Division, Shillong, Anu P James have jointly addressed a press conference on Thursday to explain about the formation of the committee and plans.


The committee was formed on June 23 this year in accordance with the order of High Court of Meghalaya in a PIL of 2019  regarding cleanliness  of Umiam lake. The mandate of the committee is to advise the state government on measures to be taken for restoration and protection of water bodies in the state. This involves drawing out long-term and short-term measures for restoration of water bodies. “The latest technology and methods used for cleaning and rejuvenation of water bodies will also be examined and accordingly the action plan for restoration of water bodies will be prepared incorporating the various factors”, an official statement said.

By an order on February 23 this year, the High Court had extended the scope to all water bodies in the state.

“So there is a need for convergence of the various water bodies including the rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, tanks and wetlands”, the statement said.

According to the forest officials, when it comes to the rivers, the National Green Tribunal has taken initiative for river rejuvenation based on a news item in a national daily.

According to the news report, 351 polluted river stretches have been noted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The river stretches are not meeting the prescribed standards of the water quality in terms of Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). Out of these 351 polluted rivers, seven are in Meghalaya. They are Umkhrah, Umshyrpi, Kyrhokhla, Nonbah, Umtrew, Lukhaand and Myntdu.

In compliance with the orders, a  River Rejuvenation Committee was constituted on January 24, 2019 for preparation of the action plan for these rivers.

To uplift wetlands, the State Wetland Authority was notified in 2017. A list of 134 wetlands were identified by Remote Sensing initially and after field verification, 80 wetlands were identified and are under the process of notification as wetlands as per the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.

Various orders of the NGT stressed for proper and scientific identification and protection of all water bodies.

Across the districts of Meghalaya 10,201 water bodies including the rivers, streams, tanks and lakes were identified by the deputy commissioners and other line  departments.

As per the orders of the National Green Tribunal and the High Court of Meghalaya there is a convergence element emerging towards the latest orders, the forest officials said.

The expert committee mandates to bring convergence element and devise ways to incorporate holistic, inter-departmental and multi-stakeholder approach under a single framework for effective executions.

The first meeting of the expert committee was held on July 20 and the committee will have regular meetings to formulate the action plans for the various categories of water bodies of the state prioritising those which require urgent attention.

The panel comprises principal chief conservator of forests (chairperson), chairman of state expert appraisal committee  Nababrata Bhattacharjee, Scientist B, Central Ground Water Board, Shillong, Dakhina Rabha, Engineer IIT( Guwahati),Arup Kumar Sharma, lake conservationist from Bengaluru Anand Malligavad, vice chairman, Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum Larsing Sawyan, Co-founder of campfire trails and co-author of book, ‘Rivers of Meghalaya’ Zorba Laloo Kharkolni as expert members, chief conservator of forest (wildlife) member secretary and regional director, central pollution control board and member secretary, state pollution control board will be members.

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