As per the “National Wetland Decadal Change Atlas, 2017 published by Space Applications Centre- ISRO Ahmedabad, a total of 2,31,195 wetlands (at 1:50000 scales and area >= 2.25 ha) have been mapped in the Country. 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.
India has designated 75 Wetlands of International Importance as Ramsar sites covering an area of 1.33 million ha across the country.
As per the Wetlands (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2017, the National Wetlands Committee (NWC) at national level and State Wetlands Authorities (SWAs)/ Union Territory Wetlands Authorities state/ UT level have been constituted. The SWAs are responsible for effective conservation, management and monitoring of ecological conditions of wetlands within their jurisdiction. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has published comprehensive guidelines for implementing Wetlands (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2017. The above-said guidelines recommend the management of each notified wetland to be guided by an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) which inter-alia describes monitoring requirements for detecting changes in ecological character and for measuring the effectiveness of management.
Scientific details regarding the degraded wetlands across the country are not available, however, as per the ‘National Decadal Wetlands Change Atlas,’ released by MoEF&CC in February 2022, as an outcome of ‘National Wetland Inventory and Assessment – 2ndCycle’ project of the Space Application Center, the number and extent of wetlands having area equal to or greater than 2.25 ha has increased by 18,810and 0.64 million ha respectively during the assessment period 2006-07 to 2017-18.
The Ministry has taken several steps for conservation and management of wetlands across the country. 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 to conserve, manage and maintain the ecological character of the wetlands without restricting the wise use.
Further, MoEF&CC is implementing a centrally sponsored scheme namely, NPCA for conservation and management of identified wetlands (includes lakes) in the country on cost sharing basis between Central Government and respective State Governments including Odisha. The scheme covers various activities such as interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater, shoreline protection, lakefront development, in-situ cleaning i.e., desilting & de-weeding, stormwater management, bioremediation, catchment area treatment, lake beautification, survey & demarcation, bio-fencing, fisheries development, weed control, biodiversity conservation, education and awareness creation, community participation, etc. So far, MoEF&CC has sanctioned proposals for conservation of 165 wetlands across the country, including 42 Ramsar sites and released an amount of about Rs. 1088.852 Crores as central share. This amount includes central share of Rs. 37.08418 crores released so far to Government of Odisha for conservation and management of Chilika lake (Rs. 28.33288 cr.), Ansupa (Rs. 6.44468 cr.), Kanjia (Rs. 0.9563 cr.), Daha (Rs. 0.506 cr.) and Kuanria (Rs. 0.84432 cr.) in Odisha.
The Ministry had also undertaken ‘Wetlands Rejuvenation’ programme within the framework of 169 transformative ideas of Government of India i.e. “Start work on Restoration & Rejuvenation of at least 100 major wetlands across the country”. In the first cycle of the programme, 130 wetlands were selected in consultation with State Governments for which collection of baseline information and rapid assessment of wetlands condition was done during the 100 days implementation period. Based on the health status, 32 wetlands were identified and concerned States/UTs were advised to take necessary action for their rejuvenation and restoration.
The Ministry has launched Mission Sahbhagita, on the occasion of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, which is an important step towards participatory conservation and wise use of wetlands to enable a society ownership approach with communities leading at the forefront. The Ministry has also launched ‘Save Wetlands Campaign’ as part of this Mission on 04.02.2023 at Goa on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2023.
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