CSE's Work on Draft Legal Framework for Conservation and Protection of Inland Wetlands in South Asia

CSE has been researching on the state of waterbodies in India and South Asia. The research findings from India have been published in Excreta Matters: The Seventh State of Environment Report. It is clear from the research studies that there is no clear law for the protection of waterbodies, catchments and the feeder channels in South Asian countries including India. Recently CSE has also conducted a research study on restoration of cascading tanks in Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka. CSE had organised several knowledge sharing seminar on the state of wetlands and lakes in different countries like Bangladesh (Dhaka and Khulna), Sri Lanka and Nepal and it was clear that there is a need of a legal framework for the protection of waterbodies in the South Asian countries. 

CSE worked jointly with the Enviro Legal Defence Firm (ELDF) to come up with a draft  framework legislation which may be presented to different law  making authorities in the South Asian countries (including India). The framework has taken care of the loopholes of the existing laws and policies related to the protection and conservation of wetlands. The legal framework is the starting point for a set of activities that will include recommendations to the central and state governments about appropriate institutional and technical measures for wetland protection. 

The process of finalisation of the draft involved the following steps:

  1. Research on the existing policies and acts related to conservation, use and protection of wetlands in South Asia and other parts of the world

  2. Development of questionnaire for getting inputs on the existing laws, policies and acts from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka 

  3. Review of the laws, policies and acts from the respective countries 

  4. Detailing of the case laws and its analyses   

  5. Development of the structure of the legal framework on the basis of structured advice from South Asian countries

  6. Detailing of the framework following best practices and case laws

  7. Consultation meeting with representatives from South Asian (including India) partners to analyse each section of the draft

  8. Incorporation of the suggestions and comments in the draft and finalisation of the draft

CSE's consultation meeting was held on December 17-18, 2013, where eminent lawyers, legal advisers, prominent NGOs from different South Asian countries attended to scrutinise the framework and share their comments. The following persons attended the meeting:

  1. Harsha Fernando , Attorney at law,  Battaramulla, Srilanka

  2. Sanjay Upadhyay, Advocate Supreme Court and Managing Partner, Enviro Legal Defence Firm, New Delhi, India

  3. Saima Amin Khawaja, Progressive Advocates and Legal Consultants,  Lahore, Pakistan

  4. Nusrat Jahan Nabeela ,  Progressive Advocates and Legal Consultants, Lahore, Pakistan

  5. Leo F. Saldanha, Environmental Support Group, Bangalore, India

  6. Bhargavi S. Rao, Environmental Support Group, Bangalore, India

  7. Chakradhar Samineni, Save our Urban Lake, Hyderabad, India

  8. Dr. Jasveen Jairath, Save Our Urban Lake, Hyderabed, India

  9. Mukesh Dhungana, Assistant Professor in Kathmandu School of Law, Kathmandu, Nepal

  10. Syed Mahbubul Alam, Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, Dhaka, Bangladesh

  11. Kameshwar Rai, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court,  New Delhi, India

  12. Archana Vaidya, Indian Environmental Law offices, Gurgaon, India

  13. Pratishthe Singh, Enviro Legal Defence Firm, New Delhi, India

  14. Ridhima Pabbi, Enviro Legal Defence Firm, New Delhi, India

  15. Suparna Jain, Enviro Legal Defence Firm, Delhi, India

  16. Nitya Jacob, CSE, New Delhi, India

  17. Sushmita Sengupta, CSE, New Delhi, India

  18. Amandeep Kang, CSE, New Delhi, India

  19. Hina Khan, CSE, New Delhi, India


CSE is putting up this draft as a working draft and inviting comments from NGOs, legal advisers, practitioners and researchers from South Asian countries. 

We also request researchers, legal experts and NGOs or any one related to wetland from South Asian countries to fill up the questionnaire so that a detailed analysis of the laws/acts/policies/case laws related to wetlands can be made.