What’s the news?
- According to some experts, Wetlands in the country will continue to remain vulnerable to degradation unless the government notifies all of them.
- A “Wetland atlas” prepared by the Space Applications Center of Indian Space Research Organization and released earlier this week said there are 2.3 lakh man-made and natural wetlands across the country.
News in Detail
- Around 1342 natural and man-made wetlands have disappeared between 2007 and 2018 when mapping was done by ISRO using Resourcesat-2/2A, LISS-III sensor data. Out of these 240 were natural and 887 were man-made inland wetlands, covering an area of 20354 ha and 65 natural coastal wetlands and 147 man-made coastal wetlands covering an area of 4935 ha has disappeared.
- According to the Environment ministry, most wetlands in India continue to remain vulnerable to degradation and land use change because states haven’t notified them.
- As per Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 all states and UTs should have prepared a list of wetlands to be notified, within six months from the date of publication of the rules.
- The funds under the National Plan for conservation of Aquatic Eco-Systems (NPCA) have been so far given for conservation of 160 wetlands identified by states.
- The Supreme Court, in its 2017 judgment in MK Balakrishnan Vs Union of India case has clearly stated that over 2 lakh wetlands mapped by Center should be conserved under Rule 4 of the Wetlands Rules. So, there is protection to all wetlands, even those not notified.
- Rule 4 of Wetlands Rule 2017 states that wetlands shall be conserved and managed in accordance with the principle of “wise use” as determined by the Wetlands Authority. Conversion for non-wetland uses including encroachment of any kind; setting up of any industry; and expansion of existing industries etc are prohibited.
- Under the wetland rules 2017 all powers of selecting and notifying wetlands is with states, not with the Center.
What are Wetlands?
- Wetlands are ecosystems where water is the primary factor that controls the environment and supports the life cycle of associated plants and animals.
- These include freshwater, marine or coastal ecosystems.
- Wetlands take many forms including rivers, marshes, bogs, mangroves, mudflats, ponds, swamps, billabongs, lagoons, lakes, and floodplains and most of the large wetland areas often include a combination of different types of freshwater systems.
- According to Global Wetland Outlook of Ramsar Convention, Wetlands are shrinking at an alarming rate with 35 % wetlands lost globally since 1970, wetlands are the most threatened ecosystem and are disappearing three times faster than forests.
- With respect to area covered by wetlands across India, Gujarat leads with 21.9% of the country’s wetlands, followed by Maharashtra (7.2) and Andhra Pradesh (7.14).
About Ramsar Convention
- The Ramsar Convention is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
- The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90% of UN member states have become “Contracting Parties” and committed to the Convention’s three pillars:
- Work towards the wise use of all their wetlands
- Designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands International Importance and ensure their effective management
- Cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.
- India has been a signatory to the Ramsar Convention since 1982.