Centre plans nationwide campaign for conservation of wetlands
As only 170 out of 7.5 lakh wetlands in the country have been covered under National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems, the Central government has planned a public campaign across the country for conservation of wetlands which are fast disappearing due to encroachment and pollution.
"The central government is highly concerned about conservation of wetlands in the country. We have covered around 170 wetlands under National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA), which operates in coordination with state governments," said a senior officer of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
"Efforts are being made to cover maximum number of wetlands in the country in the coming financial year," he said .
According to senior officers, many of the 7.5 lakh wetlands are on the verge of extinction due to encroachment caused by unplanned urbanisation and discharge of sewage and untreated industrial waste.
Besides, acting as life support for a range of plants and animals, the wetlands also act as water reservoir during flood and source of water supply during drought season.
Regarded as 'kidneys of landscape', wetlands receive flows of water and waste from upstream sources. The country has identified 26 large wetlands which were included in the list of international importance and vowed for their conservation under Ramsar Convention.
The largest wetland of the country with an area of around 1,512 sq meter is situated at Vembanand Kol in Kerala, followed by 1,165 sq meter large Chilka Lake in Orissa.
Out of the 26 Ramsar wetlands, three are in Jammu & Kashmir. So far, 15 wetlands have been identified for protection in Uttar Pradesh, followed by 13 in Madhya Pradesh and six in West Bengal.
"They are an important part of our natural wealth and liquid assets. Despite their tremendous value, wetlands are also one of the most rapidly degrading ecosystems," informed the officer.
The theme of the World Wetlands Day for this year is "Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction".
The Environment Ministry has assigned the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), Chennai, to conduct two major events to spread public awareness about conservation of wetlands – radio campaign in metros and participatory campaigns with schools and civic bodies.