The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India, today notified the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010.
Wetlands are critical for human development and wellbeing, especially in India where a large number of people are dependent on them for drinking water, food and livelihood. Despite their immense importance, wetlands are one of the most degraded ecosystems globally. Research suggests that over-exploitation of fish resources, discharge of industrial effluents, fertilizers and pesticides and uncontrolled siltation and weed infestation, among other reasons, have wiped out or severely damaged over 1/3rd of India’s wetlands.
Wetland conservation has been accorded a high priority in India. Since 1987, the National Wetlands Conservation Programme of India has been financially supporting wetland conservation activities all over India. Under the programme, 115 wetlands have been identified for conservation and management till date. India is also a party to the Ramsar Convention under which 25 wetlands from India are included in the list of wetlands of international importance.
The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 is a positive step towards conservation of wetlands in India. “This is the first time that legally enforceable Rules are being notified for such eco-sensitive areas in our country. This will go a long way in protecting our wetlands which are under severe threat,”
Under the Rules, wetlands have been classified for better management and easier identification. Central Wetland Regulatory Authority has been set up to ensure proper implementation of the Rules and perform all functions for management of wetlands in India. Apart from necessary government representatives, the Authority shall have a number of expert members to ensure that wetland conservation is carried out in the best possible manner.
In order to ensure there is no further degradation of wetlands, the Rules specify activities which are harmful to wetlands such as industrialization, construction, dumping of untreated waste, reclamation, etc., and prohibit these activities in the wetlands. Other activities such as harvesting, dredging, etc. may be carried out in the wetlands but only with prior permission from the concerned authorities.
Article from The Hindu
The Union government notified rules for conservation and management of wetlands that restrict harmful activities such as construction, dumping of untreated waste, and industrialization, to prevent damage to these sensitive ecosystems with high biodiversity values.
The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, are aimed at ensuring better conservation and preventing degradation of wetlands.
Over one-third of the country's wetlands had been wiped out or badly damaged.
Under the rules, wetlands have been classified for better management and easier identification. Wetland regulatory authorities and appraisal committees were set up at the central, State and district levels to ensure proper implementation of the rules.
Apart from necessary government representatives, each of these bodies has experts.
The rules specify activities that are harmful to wetlands and prohibit them. Other activities such as harvesting and dredging could be carried out with prior permission from the authorities concerned.
“This is the first time that legally enforceable rules are being notified for such eco-sensitive areas in our country. This will go a long way in protecting our wetlands, which are under severe threat.”
Wetlands are critical for human development and well-being, especially in India, where a large number of people are dependent on them for drinking water, food and livelihood.
Despite their immense importance, wetlands are one of the most degraded ecosystems globally. Over-exploitation of fish resources, discharge of industrial effluents, fertilizers and pesticides and uncontrolled siltation and weed infestation, among other reasons, have taken the toll on these important water bodies.
“We have also approached the ISRO [Indian Space Research Organisation] and other institutions to undertake a comprehensive mapping exercise delineating all the wetlands in the country,” Mr. Ramesh said, adding that the legal framework for the preservation and management of wetlands was in keeping with the suggestions from the public.
India is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and wise use of wetlands, which includes in its ambit a wide variety of habitats such as rivers and lakes, coastal lagoons, mangroves, coral reefs, and numerous man-made wetlands like ponds, farm ponds, irrigated agricultural lands, sacred groves, salt pans, reservoirs, gravels, pits, sewage, farms and canals.
The Union government had identified 25 wetlands for conservation and management under its conservation programme and provides financial and technical assistance to the State governments and Union Territory administrations for this purpose.