Dams · Wetlands

Karnataka Wetlands Review 2017: Bellandur Lake Remains On Fire

Wetlands For A Sustainable Urban Future : Text from Face Book post by Vishwanath Srikantaiah on occasion of World Wetlands Day 2018. 

Much grief, energy and monies can be saved if we imagine our ‘tanks’ as wetlands rather than water bodies in the city of Bengaluru.

World wetlands day is celebrated on the 2nd of February every year. For this year 2018 the theme is “Wetlands for a sustainable urban future”.

A simple definition for a wetland is that it is an area that tends to be saturated with water either permanently or seasonally and harbours a distinct type set of plants. Wetlands behave differently from a water body like a lake and need to be managed, if at all, completely differently.

Wetlands harbour bio-diversity much more than only water, have the ability to absorb pollutants and nutrients better, can manage floods, recharge groundwater, moderate temperature and area huge asset for a city.

In the city of Bengaluru itself the Karnataka State Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) has sent a proposal to the central government that 176 tanks within the city be declared as wetlands. This would potentially protect these tanks better from encroachment and solid waste dumping as well as the construction of roads within.

The polluted stretches of the Vrishabhavati and the Dakshina Pinakini could also be brought under wetlands protection.

Wetlands, in combination with waste-water treatment plants, are a good way of reviving the tanks in the city. The example of Jakkur and Rachenahalli are possible starting points for an integrated approach to manage water in the city with wetlands playing an important role. Here waste-water treated to secondary standards are then allowed in to the wetlands which remove nitrates and reduce Total Suspended Solids, thus allowing for it to fill the water body. In turn , the lakes allow for fishing and recharge the surrounding aquifers.

Wetlands provide for a range of services including livelihoods for the poorer sections of society. Even now a range of fodder collectors pick up grass and alligator weed ( called Hongonney in Kannada ) for feeding their cattle almost all across the city.

Remedied waste-water from the city can be further treated in the wetlands and used for agricultural purpose. The proposal and project to transfer treated waste-water to the districts of Kolar and Chikballapur can also benefit substantially if wetlands are integrated in to the design at the first receiving tanks. This would also enhance flora and faunal biodiversity in the tanks of these drought prone rural districts at the same time benefiting agriculture there.

Integrating wetlands into the master plan and the urban fabric of cities is the need of the hour and that would be water wisdom.

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Dams · Wetlands

West India Wetlands Review 2017: No Protection Here

GUJARAT WETLANDS DEVELOPMENTS 2017

Gosabara wetland declared IBA In March 2017 during a two days workshop, The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) declared 96 sq km coastal wetland area of Gosabara-Mokarsagar in Porbandar, as Important Bird Area (IBA) site. There are around 544 IBAs in India and 18 in Gujarat. As per experts though IBA does not have any legal status, it helps environmentalists to raise alarm if the site faces any threats and press for its conservation. In 2001, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology (SACON) conducted a country-wide survey for important ‘Inland Wetlands of India’ and Gosabara-Mokarsagar wetland was one the 50 important wetlands of the country.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/gosabara-wetland-now-a-bnhs-iba-site/articleshow/57453811.cms  (The Times of India, 4 March 2017)

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Dams · Wetlands

Maharashtra Wetlands Review 2017: Destruction Despite Legal Intervention

Throughout 2017, civil society groups have been working hard to protect the wetlands in mangrove and coastal area in Maharashtra. Bombay High Court has also passed several orders in this regard. State Government has taken some steps in the interest of wetlands. However despite all these, the wetlands in Maharashtra stand at the receiving end of encroachments, pollution and waste dumping.

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Dams · Wetlands

East India Wetlands Review 2017: West Bengal Bent On Destroying World’s Largest Natural Sewage Treatment Plant

The East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) are unique yet complex system of natural and human-made wetlands in West Bengal. The wetlands cover 125 sq km comprising of salt marshes, salt meadows, sewage farms and settling ponds. They are used to treat Kolkata’s sewage, and the nutrients contained in the waste water sustain fish farms and agriculture.

Devised by local fishermen and farmers, these wetlands served, in effect, as the largest natural sewage treatment plant (STP) for the city. And using the purification capacity of wetlands, Kolkata by transforming nearly one-third of the city’s sewage into a rich harvest of fish and fresh vegetables daily, has pioneered an environment-friendly system of sewage disposal. Because of this, the EKW were designated a “wetland of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention on August 19, 2002. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Kolkata_Wetlands

However for past many years, these wetlands are under threat due to exponential expansion of real-estate projects. Recently illegal landfills are on the rise and unprecedented land development and urbanization have been creating concerns about the impact on EKW environment. 2017 has seen the situation turning only worse for EKW. 

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Dams · Wetlands

North East Wetlands Review 2017: “Remove Ithai Barrage on Loktak Lake”

MANIPUR

Loktak lake is the largest freshwater lake near Moirang in Manipur state. In local language Loktak means end of stream. The lake is referred as the “lifeline of Manipur” as it is highly productive and provides habitat to biota and livelihoods to people. The lake is an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is widely famous for the phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil and organic matter at various stages of decomposition) floating over it.

In 1990, the lake was included under Ramsar Convention as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’. But over the years, NHPC’s hydropower projects specially Ithai Barrage have led to severe impact on the lake eco-system and serious disturbance in local community.  Despite this, NHPC has been pushing more hydro projects on the lake streams. As a result, local people and concerned have univocally and repeatedly started protesting against proposed hydro projects and demanding removal of Ithai barrage. And the demand have only grown louder in 2017.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loktak_Lake

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Dams · Wetlands

North India Wetlands Review 2017: Callous Governments

After separate reports on key developments surrounding wetlands in 2017 in North India including Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana – this final compilation in North India Wetlands Review 2017 series by SANDRP, highlights the plight of wetlands, lakes and water bodies in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and National Capital Region.

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Dams · Wetlands

Haryana Wetlands Review 2017: Urbanization Taking Over Basai Wetland

All through 2017, Basai Wetland has been in news following Haryana Government plan to build a Construction and Demolition (C&D) plant in its close proximity. Activists, Birders left no stone unturned to oppose the plant. They approached National Green Tribunal (NGT) and even wrote to Haryana State Government to identity it as important wetland. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) also blamed Haryana Government for being negligent towards the cause of wetlands and asked it to give Basai legal protection by declaring it a protected wetland. All these efforts went futile and in sad turn of events, NGT, on 10 January 2018 revoked its stay over construction of the C&D plant thus closing the doors of hope for Basai wetlands and dependent eco-system.

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Dams · Wetlands

Chandigarh Wetlands Review 2017: Sukhna Lake Facing Multiple Problems

The man-made, rain-fed lake Sukhna, located in Sector-1, Chandigarh, was built in 1958 at the cost of Rs 1 crore by damming Sukhna rivulet. Over the years, the lake has become integral part of Chandigarh’s cultural life and recreational activities. At the same time, ever since its creation, it is also in the centre of natural and man-made problems.

For years, pursuing Punjab & Haryana High Court (HC), Chandigarh directives, Union Territory Administration Chandigarh (UTAC), has been taking several measures to restore the lake’s falling glory. However siltation, catchment degradation, water evaporation, weeds infestation, lack of rain, pollution all seems to have become persistent threats jeopardizing the lake eco-system.

All through the year 2017, the lake remained in news for various reasons. UTAC has pumped ground water to fill the dry lake. There are plans to transfer Bhakhra dam water to keep the lake saturated during lean season. HC Judges have visited places around the lake to observe progress on ground of its orders issued to revive the lake. The court has also cancelled a Tata Group real estate project proposed in Lake Catchment in violation of norms. Despite all this, the gradual deterioration of lake eco-system is going on. Here we try to capture various developments in 2017 regarding Sukhna lake.

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Dams · Wetlands

Punjab Wetlands 2017: Ramsar Sites Under Severe Threats

Introduction

National Wetlands Atlas has mapped 1381 big wetlands in Punjab State. It has also identified 5049 small wetlands of less than 2.25 hectare area. Total wetland area estimated in the state is 86283 hectare which is about 1.71 per cent of its total geographic area. Out of this, with 59864 hectare the river/stream is accounts for for 69.38 per cent of the wetlands. Reservoirs/Barrages ranks second with 13.74 per cent share spread over 11858 hectare of area.. http://www.moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/NWIA_Punjab_Atlas.pdf

There are three Ramsar sites (wetlands of International importance) in the state- Harike, Kanjli and Ropar. These wetlands are important habitats for waterfowl, fish and diversity of other flora and fauna including endangered and vulnerable species. Two other wetlands- Ranjit Sagar and Nangal are National wetlands.

Ranjit Sagar is an interstate wetland spreading over in three states (Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and J&K). There are 5 small wetlands considered as state wetlands owing to their rich biodiversity and ecological characters. These are – Keshopur-Miani Jheel, Kahnuwan Chhamb, Jastarwal Jheel, Mand Bharthala and Dholbaha Reservoir. In all, Punjab has 12 important natural and 9 man-made wetlands.

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Dams · Wetlands

Uttarakhand Wetlands 2017: Nainital Lake Needs Urgent Attention

Uttarakhand is a land of picturesque landscape encompassing mountains, forests, rivers. The state also has many beautiful lakes which includes Bheem Tal, Devaria Tal, Dodi Tal, Roopkund, Hemkund, Kashni Tal, Kagbhushandi Lake, Kedar Tal, Naukuchia Tal, Naini Lake, The Nachiketa Tal, Satopanth Lake, Shyamla Tal, Sahastra Tal, Masar Tal, Sat Tal,  Vasuki Tal etc. http://www.uttarakhandtourism.net/lakes_of_uttarakhand.htm ­(Uttarakhand Tourism Web, as on 10 January 2018)

 As per National Wetlands Atlas 2011, there are 994 wetlands of various categories of which including 816 are small wetlands of less than 2.25 hectare area. The total area under the wetlands in the state is 103882 hectare which is 1.92 per cent of its total geographic area. River/stream is the most dominant one with 77.14 per cent share of wetlands with area 81033 hectare. Reservoirs/ Barrages are the second largest wetland category. http://www.moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/NWIA_Uttarakhand_Atlas.pdf http://wetland.u-sac.in/uttar_wetland.html
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