Wetlands in India

Wetlands in India

Wetlands are some of the world’s most fragile and sensitive ecosystems supporting unique habitats for plants and animals, and providing livelihoods to millions of people across the world. Wetlands in India occupy 4.6% of the geographical area covering an area of 15.26 million hectares.

What are Wetlands

Wetlands are transitional areas between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems where the water table is generally at or near to the surface, or the land is covered under shallow water.

The wetlands mainly includes marshes, swamps, flood plains, peat lands, bogs, shallow ponds, littoral zones of larger water bodies, and tidal marshes.

It has been observed that over 50% of the world’s wetland have been lost in the past century and as much as 30% of the present species in some freshwater habitats are under threat of extinction.

Wetlands are area of marsh, fen, peat-land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meter

Definition as per Ramsar Convention of 1971

Importance of Wetlands

  1. 40% of animals breed in wetlands
  2. They clean the environment of pollutants
  3. They store 30% of land based carbon
  4. They absorb storm surge
  5. Wetlands provide livelihood to one billion people – their ecosystems are worth USD 47 trillion annually

World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day is celebrated across the globe on 2nd February every year to to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.

This year’s theme shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss. The 2021 campaign highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet.

The year 2021 also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Wetlands in India

Among the Indian states, Gujarat ranks first with a total wetland area of about 3.47 m ha (about 23% of the total Indian wetland area) comprising vast stretches of intertidal mud-flats and salt pans.

Types of Wetlands in India

  1. Inland wetlands – Natural – 43.40%
    1. Lakes/pondes;
    2. Ox-bow lakes/ cut-off meanders;
    3. High-altitude wetlands;
    4. Riverine wetlands;
    5. waterlogged;
    6. River/stream
  2. Inland wetlands-Man-made – 25.83%
    1. Reservoirs/barrages;
    2. Tanks/ponds;
    3. waterlogged;
    4. Salt pans
  3. Coastal wetlands – Natural – 24.27%
    1. Lagoons;
    2. Creeks;
    3. Sand/beeach/ Intertidal mud flats;
    4. Salt marsh;
    5. Mangroves;
    6. Coral reefs
  4. Coastal wetlands- Man-made – 2.86%
    1. Salt pans;
    2. Aquaculture ponds
  5. Wetlands (<2.25 ha) 3.64%

Wetlands Conservation in India

For conservation and management of identified wetlands including Ramsar sites in India, the National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP) was implemented in the year 2012-13.

The NWCP was later merged with the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) and National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems’ (NPCA) to obtain a rather holistic conservation of lakes and wetlands.

Under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, MoEFCC has issued the Wetlands (Management and Conservation) Rules, 2010 for conservation and management of wetlands.

Various Indirect Laws & Regulations also effect Wetland Conservation in India. These include:

  • The Indian Fisheries Act – 1857
  • The Indian Forest Act – 1927
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act-1972
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974
  • Territorial Water, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and other Marine Zones Act 1976
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1977
  • Maritime Zone of India (Regulation and fishing by foreign vessels) Act – 1980
  • Forest (Conservation Act) – 1980
  • Environmental (Protection Act – 1986
  • Coastal Zone Regulation Notification – 1991
  • Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act – 1991
  • National Conservation Strategy and Policy (Statement on Environment and Development) – 1992
  • National Policy and Macro level Action Strategy on Biodiversity-1999

Ramsar Wetlands in India

The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. India signed the Ramsar Convention on 1 February 1982.

As of August 2021, India has 46 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1,083,322 hectares.

S. No.Name of Ramsar SiteState/UTDate of DeclarationArea (in Sq. Km.)
1.Chilka LakeOrissa1.10.19811165
2.KeoladeoRajasthan1.10.198128.73
3.Wular LakeJammu & Kashmir23.3.1990189
4.Loktak LakeManipur23.3.1990266
5.Harike LakePunjab23.3.199041
6.Sambhar LakeRajasthan23.3.1990240
7.KanjliPunjab22.1.20021.83
8.RoparPunjab22.1.200213.65
9.Kolleru LakeAndhra Pradesh19.8.2002901
10.Deepor BoelAssam19.8.200240
11.Pongdam LakeHimachal Pradesh19.8.2002156.62
12.TsomoririJammu & Kashmir19.8.2002120
13.Ashtamudi wetlandKerala19.8.2002614
14.Sasthamkotta LakeKerala19.8.20023.73
15.Vembanad-Kol wetlandKerala19.8.20021512.5
16.Bhoj wetlandMadhya Pradesh19.8.200232.01
17.Bhtarkanika mangrovesOrissa19.8.2002650
18.Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird SanctuaryTamil Nadu19.8.2002385
19.East Kolkata WetlandWest Bengal19.8.2002125
20.Renuka wetlandHimachal Pradesh8.11.20050.2
21.Chandertal wetlandHimachal Pradesh8.11.20050.49
22.Hokersar wetlandJammu & Kashmir8.11.200513.75
23.Surinsar-Mansar LakeJammu & Kashmir8.11.20053.5
24.Rudrasagar LakeTripura8.11.20052.4
25.Upper Ganga (Brijghat to Narora Stretch)Uttar Pradesh8.11.2005265.9
26.NalsarovarGujarat24.9.2012120
27.Sundarban WedlandWest Bengal30.1.20194230
28.Nandur MadhameshwasMaharashtra21.6.201914.37
29.Nawabganj Bird SanctuaryUttar Pradesh19.9.20192.246
30.Sarsai Nawar jheelUttar Pradesh19.9.201916.13
31.Keshopur-Mian community reservePunjab26.9.20193,439
32.Beas conservation reservePunjab26.9.201964.289
33.Nangal Wildlife SanctuaryPunjab26.9.20191.16
34.Sandi Bird SanctuaryUttar Pradesh26.9.201930.85
35.Samaspur Bird SanctuaryUttar Pradesh3.10.201979.94
36.Parvati Arga Bird SanctuaryUttar Pradesh2.12.20197.22
37.Saman Bird SanctuaryUttar Pradesh2.12.201952.63
38.AsanUttarakhand21.7.20204.44
39.Kabar taal LakeBihar21.7.202026.20
40.Lonar lakeMaharashtra22.7.20204.27
41.Sur SarovarUttar Pradesh21.8.20204.31
42.Tso Kar UnionTerritory of Ladakh17.11.202095.77
43.Thol Lake Wildlife SanctuaryGujarat05.04.20216.99
44.Wadhvana WetlandGujarat05.04.20216.30
45.Sultanpur National ParkHaryana25.05.20211.425
46.Bhindawas Wildlife SanctuaryHaryana25.05.20214.12
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