Conservation, management of wetlands

According to the central government, a total of 75 wetlands have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites) till date, out of which 26 wetlands were designated till 2014 and 49 more wetlands have been designated as Ramsar Sites since 2015.

Among them Wular Lake in Kashmir, spread over  18900 hectares, was declared son on 23-03-1990; Tsomoriri in Jammu on 19-08-2002; Hokera Wetland in Kashmir on 08-11-2005; Surinsar-Mansar Lakes in Jammu on 08-11-2005; Hygam Wetland Conservation Reserve in Kashmir on 08-06-2022 and Shallbugh Wetland Conservation Reserve in Kashmir on 08-06-2022.

A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, also known as “The Convention on Wetlands”, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO, which came into force in 1975. It provides for national action and international cooperation regarding the conservation of wetlands, and wise sustainable use of their resources. Ramsar identifies wetlands of international importance, especially those providing waterfowl habitat. The inclusion of these wetlands is expected to gradually salvage these distinct ecosystems and regain their past glory.

As per the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, it has notified the Wetlands (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2017 under the purview of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which are applicable to all the notified wetlands and Ramsar sites in the country.

As per the provisions of these rules, the State/UT Wetlands Authorities have been constituted which are responsible for protection and conservation of wetlands, including Ramsar sites.

In addition, various provisions of acts and rules namely the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, the State Forest Acts, and the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011, as amended, also stipulate measures for conservation and management of wetlands including Ramsar sites.

MoEF&CC is currently implementing a centrally sponsored scheme namely, National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) for conservation and management of wetlands (including Ramsar sites) in the country on cost sharing basis between Central Government and respective State Governments .

Also, Amrit Dharohar is an initiative taken by the Government of India in 2023 to promote wise use, unique conservation values and services of Ramsar Sites in India. These include four components such as Species and Habitat Conservation, Nature Tourism, Wetlands Livelihoods, and Wetlands Carbon Assessment. Amrit Dharohar is being implemented through convergence of ongoing schemes/programmes of different departments and State Government.   While these steps are welcome, there is need to strengthen ecological integrity, and conservation of priceless resources through participation of people.

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