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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Continue reading “Uttarakhand Wetlands 2017: Nainital Lake Needs Urgent Attention”
Captivating images of lakes and wetlands strike the imagination of general masses when the name of Jammu and Kashmir is mentioned. For years, the aquatic wonders have been the main attraction of tourists, at the same time supporting livelihood of local communities in multiple ways. These water bodies also provide safe habitats to the lakhs of migratory birds.
However, over the years, gradual siltation, steady encroachment and increasing pollution have put the wetlands eco-system and associated socio-economical benefits at receiving ends. And, in 2017 the situation only got worse.
Featured image showing 36 Wetlands in India requiring urgent attention as per a 2014 petition filed in apex court (Image Source: Live Mint)
In the third part of Wetlands Review 2016, SANDRP presents an account of major decisions taken by respective Courts for the protection of Wetlands in India.
In a significant development in April 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed all State Governments to submit a complete list of Wetlands under their jurisdiction. The green court was hearing a plea alleging commercial conversion and resultant destruction of several large ecologically important Wetland areas across the country in absence identification and notification by respective State Governments.
The court also asked the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to submit the list of States that had approached it with Wetlands conservation plans.
India is one of the 169 signatories to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of Wetlands and their resources. There are 2,241 Ramsar sites across the world, including 26 spread across India from Wular Lake in Jammu and Kashmir to Ashtamudi Wetland in Kerala, and from Deepor Beel in Assam to Nal Sarovar in Gujarat.
Despite their vital importance to humans, across India, Wetlands are seriously threatened by reclamation and degradation through processes of drainage, land filling, discharge of domestic and industrial effluents, disposal of solid waste, and over-exploitation of the natural resources that they offer.
Here is an account of major decisions and actions by Central as well as State Governments on wetlands related issues in 2016.
In the picture-Drying Wular lake in J&K; Mass dish death due to pollution in Ulsoor Lake, Karnataka; Filling up of Wetlands in Maharashtra and Waste dumping on Deepor Beel in Assam
Wetlands are vital for human survival. They are among the world’s most productive eco systems. Wetlands are crucial for the survival of variety of plants and animals. They are indispensable for the countless services ranging from freshwater supply, food, sustainable livelihood options and groundwater recharge. They also host a huge variety of life, protect our coastlines, provide natural sponges against river flooding and store carbon to regulate climate change.
Here is an account on status of India’s wetland in 2016 underlining their ecological importance and urgent need of conservation of Wetlands across the country.
The World Wetlands Day, celebrated around the world on 2nd February each year, marks the adoption of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Iran in 1972. The Convention came into force in India since 1982. The theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day is “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction.”[i]
During floods, wetlands can act as natural sponges and absorb intense runoff and discharge, holding more water than most soil types.[ii] This role of wetlands has been demonstrated most powerfully in India in the past few years. Chennai deluge in Nov-Dec 2015 highlighted what happens when wetlands in a city reduce by 2/3rds in just 20 years. Similarly, Kashmir valley lost 50% of its riverine wetlands in just over 30 years, which was one of the main reasons behind the extensive losses during the Sept 2014 Jhelum floods, as corroborated by Dr Asam Rahmani of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)[iii]. In 40 years, Bangalore has lost 79% of its wetlands, similar is the case with Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and New Delhi. Bhopal, a city of relatively sloping profile, faced floods twice in 2016, and wetlands, including the rivers in the city are facing existential risks in terms of encroachments[iv].