WETLANDS IN INDIA

  • National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) scheme implemented for conservation and management of wetlands (includes lakes) in the country on cost sharing basis between Central Government and respective State Governments
  • Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) provided financial assistance to the States/Union Territories under the National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP) and National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) till the year 2012-13.
  • Both the schemes of NWCP & NLCP have been merged into a centrally sponsored scheme namely ‘National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems’ (NPCA) in 2013.
  • MoEF&CC is currently implementing NPCA scheme for conservation and management of wetlands (includes lakes) in the country on cost sharing basis between Central Government and respective State Governments.
  • According to the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017, a wetland is an area of marsh, fen, peat land or water; whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters, are considered as wetlands.

Wetlands in India:

  • The total wetland area estimated is 15.98 million hectare (mha) including rivers and excluding paddy field areas that is around 4.86% of the geographic area of the country.
  • Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017
  • MoEF&CC has notified Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 as regulatory framework for conservation and management of wetlands across the country without restricting the wise use.
  • The State/UT Wetland Authorities have been constituted and powers for identification and notification of wetlands have been delegated to the State Governments and UT Administrations.

The Ramsar Convention

  • The Government of India ratified the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands in 1982.
  • Recently, 10 new wetlands were declared as Ramsar Sites.
  • The designation of the Ramsar site recognised these areas as being of significant value and embodies the government’s commitment to take the steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained.

Currently there are 75 Ramsar sites in India

Types of Wetlands in India

  1. Inland wetlands – Natural – 43.40%
  2. Lakes/pondes;
  3. Ox-bow lakes/ cut-off meanders;
  4. High-altitude wetlands;
  5. Riverine wetlands;
  6. waterlogged;
  7. River/stream
  8. Inland wetlands-Man-made – 25.83%
  9. Reservoirs/barrages;
  10. Tanks/ponds;
  11. waterlogged;
  12. Salt pans
  13. Coastal wetlands – Natural – 24.27%
  14. Lagoons;
  15. Creeks;
  16. Sand/beeach/ Intertidal mud flats;
  17. Salt marsh;
  18. Mangroves;
  19. Coral reefs
  20. Coastal wetlands- Man-made – 2.86%
  21. Salt pans;
  22. Aquaculture ponds

Significance of Wetlands

  • 40% of animals breed in wetlands
  • They clean the environment of pollutants
  • They store 30% of land based carbon
  • They absorb storm surge
  • Wetlands provide livelihood to one billion people

Conclusion:

  • In India, unplanned urbanization and a growing population have taken their toll on wetlands.
  • To counter these, management of wetlands has to be an integrated approach in terms of planning, execution and monitoring.
  • Effective tie-ups of trained academicians and professionals must be linked with local expertise for overall management of wetlands.
  • All these would increase knowledge and understanding of wetlands and evolve more comprehensive and long-term conservation and management strategies.
  • Spreading awareness by initiating educational programs about the importance of wetlands in the vicinity of the water bodies, besides constant monitoring of wetlands for their water quality, would provide vital inputs to safeguard the wetlands from further deterioration.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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