Wetland Conservation

Jun, 16, 2018

Blue revolution a bane of Kolleru


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geographical Features of Kolleru Lake and its Biodiversity

Mains level: Shrinking size of Kolleru Lake and various other wetlands is a matter of concern


Pisciculture at Kolleru Lake is a bane

  1. The blue revolution converted the lake into a centre mainly for pisciculture.
  2. Operation Kolleru was launched to clear the lake of unauthorised fish tanks.
  3. But this would reduce the protected area of the lake from +5 to +3 contours (that is by 538 sq.km) and AP govt even had a resolution to that effect passed in the Assembly and forwarded it to the Centre.
  4. The huge yields with relatively low expenditure made it the primary destination for aquaculture making it the target of the worst kind of encroachment.

Defining the boundary

  1. The lake’s boundary varies depending on the seasonal inflows like in all inland wetlands.
  2. Towards the end of the monsoon, it used to extend right up to +10 feet contour with a water-spread area of 901 sq. km.
  3. According to the Ramsar records the lake, till contour +10 ft, is protected as per the international convention.

Issue over Boundary

  1. In the summer, the area covered by water reduces to 135 sq.km (Con.+3 ft).
  2. The present government’s decision to “denotify” 20,000 acres from the wildlife sanctuary as per the recommendations of the Sukumar Committee will lead to further encroachment of the shrinking lake and make it more vulnerable.

Centre’s stance over the issue

  1. In response to the State resolutions, the Centre appointed two expert committees — the UPA appointed the A. Azeez Committee and the NDA government the Sukumar Committee — to advise them about reducing the size.
  2. While the Azeez committee said there was very little benefit in reducing the size and recommended alternate land be provided to holders of private land.
  3. The Sukumar committee suggested that the private land be removed from the sanctuary.
  4. The present government’s decision to “denotify” 20,000 acres from the wildlife sanctuary as per the recommendations of the Sukumar Committee will lead to further encroachment of the shrinking lake and make it more vulnerable.


Kolleru Lake

  1. Kolleru Lake is a freshwater lake and is known as Ramsar site no. 1209.
  2. It is located between Krishna and Godavari deltas of Andhra Pradesh
  3. As a haven for a wide variety of water birds, the Forest Department has declared 673 sq.km (Con.+5) as the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary.
  4. It is an Important Bird Area on the Central Asian Flyway.
  5. It is important habitat for resident and migratory birds, including the grey or spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis). Many birds migrate here in winter, such as the Siberian crane, ibis, and painted storks.
Apr, 23, 2018

Ramsar tag likely for Sunderbans


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sunderban Reserve Forest, Ramsar Convention, 2017 Forest Survey of India report

Mains level: Issues related to conservation of wetlands and mangroves


New Ramsar site

  1. The Sunderban Reserve Forest having mangrove forests and creeks is likely to be declared a Ramsar Site soon
  2. The West Bengal government gave its approval to the State Forest Department to apply for recognition under the Ramsar Convention
  3. Sunderbans is already a World Heritage Site

Impact of declaration as Ramsar site

  1. This will bring a lot of international scientific attention and intervention to the area
  2. It will be the largest protected wetland in the country
  3. The Indian Sunderbans, with 2,114 sq. km. of mangrove forests comprise almost 43% of the mangrove cover in the country according to a 2017 Forest Survey of India report

Current status

  1. There are currently 26 sites in India recognised as Ramsar wetland sites of international importance


Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

  1. The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources
  2. The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975
  3. It is NOT a legally binding treaty
  4. The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans
  5. Every three years the Parties meet at the Conference of the Contracting Parties (the COP), where they adopt decisions to administer the Convention and guide its implementation
  6. Between the COPs, the Parties are represented by the Standing Committee, which meets yearly
  7. The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference
  8. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List
Dec, 21, 2017

[op-ed snap] Reconsider the Rules

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Ramsar sites and wetlands

Mains level: Issues related to the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017


New framework on Wetlands

  1.  The Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017
  2. It will replace the earlier Rules of 2010
  3. The 2010 and 2017 Rules for wetlands both emphasise that the ecological character of wetlands ought to be maintained for their conservation
  4. ‘Ecological character’ refers to processes and components which make the wetland a particular, and sometimes unique, ecosystem

SC’s direction to states

  1. This year, the Supreme Court passed an order directing States to identify wetlands in the country within a stipulated timeframe

Why are the experts criticizing the 2017 Wetland Rules?

  1. In the 2010 Rules, some related criteria were made explicit, such as natural beauty, ecological sensitivity, genetic diversity, historical value, etc.
  2. These have been omitted in the 2017 Rules
  3. First, there is multiple interest around wetlands. Multiple interests also have governance needs, and this makes it absolutely necessary to identify and map these multiple uses
  4. Second, it is crucial to identify ecological criteria so that the wetlands’ character can be maintained
  5. The key to wetland conservation is not just understanding regimes of multiple use — but conserving or managing the integrity of the wetland ecosystem
  6. Finally, restriction of activities on wetlands will be done as per the principle of ‘wise use’, determined by the State wetland authority
  7. Whether wise use will include maintaining ecological character remains to be seen
  8. Under the new Rules, no authority to issue directions, which are binding in nature to desist from any activity detrimental to wetland conservation, has been prescribed to State wetland authorities

Omission of salt pans from the 2017 rules

  1. Salt pans as ‘wetlands’ have been omitted from the new Rules
  2. They were identified as wetlands in the 2010 Rules, as they are often important sites of migratory birds and other forms of biodiversity
  3. The omission in the 2017 Rules suggests that while saltpans do exist as wetlands, they do not require any conservation or ecological balance

Observations of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the case of Deepor Beel

  1. The case: Issue of wetlands being multiple-use areas — and subsequently being abused due to clashes of interest
  2. Deepor Beel is a Ramsar site and a part of it is also wildlife sanctuary in Guwahati, Assam
  3. 26 storks died, due to ‘dumping of waste’ related issues
    Conversion of a wetland to a dry ecosystem
  4. In an inspection done by the judicial member of the Tribunal, it was noted that waste was being dumped “not beyond the site but within it,” and “demarcations are made by drying out areas or cutting off water sources”
  5. These are classic ways of killing a wetland and turning it from a wet to a dry ecosystem; or from a lake to a garbage dump or cesspool
  6. The Tribunal has now asked for the “traditional” spread of the wetland

The way forward

  1. Understanding the historic spread and ecological character will be an important bulwark for the way forward
  2. Setting clear governance systems would be the next
  3. Without either, we are looking at a complete dilution of wetlands in the country


Everything that you need to know: Wetlands, Ramsar Convention, Montreux Record

Oct, 06, 2017

Central control out, subjective aspects in: why new wetlands Rules are different


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Wetlands, Ramsar Convention, etc.

Mains level: Wetland are very crucial for coastal areas, the SC’s comment on their conservation has made them more important for the mains paper.


SC’s comment on wetland conservation

  1. The Supreme Court has expressed grave concern over the disappearance of the country’s wetlands
  2. It said, “If there are no wetlands left, it will affect agriculture and several other things. It is a very, very important issue”

SC’s observation on funds allocated for wetland conservation

  1. The court has observed that even after Rs 900 crore was spent on works related to wetlands, the activities shown were extremely general in nature
  2. SC has asked the Centre to provide a status report on funds disbursed to states, and the manner of their utilisation

Government’s response on the issue

  1. The government has informed the court that the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, had been notified to replace the earlier set of guidelines that came into effect in 2010

New rules on wetlands conservation

  1. The 2010 Rules specifically included in the definition of wetlands “all inland waters such as lakes, reservoir, tanks, backwaters, lagoon, creeks, estuaries and man-made wetland and the zone of direct influence on wetlands”
  2. These have not been spelt out in the 2017 Rules

Difference between the old and new Rules

  1. The differences between the old and new Rules are also apparent in their applicability
  2. The 2010 Rules listed six points describing protected wetlands; the new Rules have done away with them
  3. And instead state that wetlands are limited to and do not include wetlands under forest and coastal regulation zones
  4. They apply to
    (a) wetlands categorised as “wetlands of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention and
    (b) wetlands as notified by the central government, state government and UT administration
  5. Restriction on activities in wetlands now no longer includes reclamation
  6. The Rules provide no timelines for phasing out solid waste and untreated waste from being dumped into wetlands
  7. The restrictions on “any other activity likely to have an adverse impact on the ecosystem of the wetland”, are not specified in the Rules
Feb, 02, 2016

States to get greater role in wetland management

  1. The Centre has started revising the regulatory framework on wetlands.
  2. As water and land are State subjects, the new framework will ensure greater role and ownership by States in wetland management.
  3. The environment ministry will lay emphasis on conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  4. The National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) provides the policy framework and support to States.
Feb, 01, 2016

Conservation of Malabar wetlands remains a far cry

  1. The frequent alerts by environmental organisations and field studies show increasing threat faced by the major wetlands in north Kerala.
  2. There has been no concrete measures on the part of the local bodies or the govt to address the concerns.
  3. The activities mainly include the illegal land reclamation activities and dumping of solid and non-degradable waste in the wetland area.
Dec, 12, 2015

Chennai paid the price for loss of wetlands and open spaces: study

Encroachments on buffer around rivers will have consequences, say experts.

  1. Chennai’s resilience to the recent deluge has taken a severe beating as nearly a quarter of its wetlands, open space and floodplains have given way to concrete structures.
  2. Researchers at the Centre for Ecological Sciences in IISc, Bengaluru, tabulated the “worrisome” growth patterns of the coastal city.
  3. The research shows that since 1991, the city’s concrete structures have increased nearly 13 times.
  4. Correspondingly, floodplains and open areas have been reduced by a fourth.
  5. In cities like Chennai and Kolkata, marshes and floodplains play a very important role in draining out overflowing rivers.
Mar, 20, 2015

MoEF focuses on Yamuna wetland

  1. The Yamuna wetland is situated in Greater Noida and is home to rare birds.
  2. One of such rare birds is – Sarus Crane, the state bird of UP.
  3. NGT orders declaring Dhanauri and Parasol as wetland to protect this species.
  4. The main threat to the Sarus crane in India is habitat loss and degradation due to drainage and conversion of land for agriculture.

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