Indian Express: Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday said the Ministry will now declare wetlands by referring to a detailed wetland atlas produced by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Ramesh said he had written to chief mninsters of all states six months ago for declaring wetlands within their states, but not a single one replied.
“If you designate states to declare wetlands, it won’t happen. With this new atlas, the MoEF will designate important wetlands. This is what I intend to do,” the minister said.
He said wetlands are normally declared ‘wastelands’ by both the state and the Central governments after which they are used for projects such as cement plants, power plants, real estate projects and so on. “Today, wetlands are very significant for our country as they not only have an ecological value but a very strong social and livelihood value,” he said.
The minister also said the wetlands would be designated by the Ministry under the notification the Ministry passed in December 2010. In India today, only 25 wetlands have been declared under the powerful Ramsar Convention, an international convention to protect wetlands.
This is a miniscule number when juxtaposed against the 15.260 million hectares wetlands across the country found occupying. The first scientific national inventory of wetlands, carried out by the Space Application Centre (SAC) and the ISRO, indicates that 4.63 per cent of the country’s geographical area is covered by wetlands.
“Wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems and play a crucial role in water cycle. Their existence is under threat due to developmental activities and population pressure,” said SAC director R R Navalgund. Source>>
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