With India adding 11 more wetlands in its 75th year of independence, the total number of Ramsar sites has reached 75 as reported by the Press Information Bureau of India on the 13th of August. The Ramsar sites of India cover an area of 13,26,667 ha. Bhupendra Yadav, Union Cabinet Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, congratulated Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra for their efforts to increase the area under wetlands via a tweet on August 13th.
The 11 newly added Ramsar sites are:
- Tampara Lake, Odisha
- Hirakud Reservoir, Odisha
- Ansupa Lake in Odisha
- Yashwant Sagar, MP
- Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary, TN
- Suchindram Theroor Wetland Complex, TN
- Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary, TN
- Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
- Thane Creek, Maharashtra
- Hygam Wetland Conservation Reserve, J&K
- Shallbugh Wetland Conservation Reserve, J&K
Read more: 75 Ramsar sites
WHAT LED TO THE RAMSAR CONVENTION?
Ramsar, a city in Iran, convened a first-of-its-kind meeting in a response to rising issues of the destruction of wetlands around the globe. The destruction of wetlands impacted both humans and the biodiversity, primarily waterbirds. This convention was developed in 1960 but it took another 11 years, for formalizing the text of the convention which in turn was opened for signature in the town of Ramsar in 1971.
The Convention is implemented through the three “pillars” of its strategic plan:
- The wise use of all wetlands,
- The designation and management of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites), and
- International cooperation – including on shared wetlands, river basins, and populations of migratory waterbirds.
India signed up for this convention in 1981 and registered the Chilika Lake in Odisha and the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan as its Ramsar sites.
Between 1982-2013, a total of 26 sites were added to this list. From 2014-2022 the country has added 49 new wetlands to this list as per the data released by PIB.
FOR MORE WETLANDS TO BE LISTED AS RAMSAR SITES
Recently, the news of Bengaluru which is facing the worst of its kind flood situation has been making headlines in the country. People cannot digest the fact that an urban city like Bengaluru is facing such a tragedy. Unplanned and unsustainable urbanization leads to these consequences.
A NGO named Wetlands International South Asia (WISA) reported that in the past three decades India has lost over 30% of its Natural Wetlands. The major reasons were unsustainable urbanization, agricultural expansion, illegal construction, and pollution.
It is further estimated that almost 90 % of Chennai’s wetlands are lost, mostly because of unplanned urbanization. Vadodara lost 30.5 % of its wetlands between 2005 and 2018. Due to inadequate waste management, growing pollution, and unregulated urban growth, Hyderabad lost 55% of its wetlands. Mumbai too has lost 71% of its wetlands, while Ahmedabad has lost 57%, Bengaluru 56%, Pune 37%, and Delhi-National Capital Region 38%, leaving the cities with the challenge of dealing with water security and environmental deterioration.
It is a well-known fact that roads, complexes, and any construction that takes place will significantly reduce the ground cover. The increase in the land covered by concrete and other building materials which cease the flow of rainwater into the ground and restricts it above the roads. Thereby, causing water logging on the roads or mini floods which is the case similar to that of Bangalore.
WHY ARE RAMSAR SITES IMPORTANT?
Ramsar Sites serve as a home to various plant and animal species, as these wetlands will have an ecosystem that is highly diverse biologically. There are 100,000 different species living at these locations. Waterfowl and other migratory birds tend to migrate at these locations as these are on their migration paths, while other birds utilize these as their lay-by location.
Ramsar Sites in India are developed for cultivating rice and other foods. Moreover, these wetlands improve the natural water quality and control shoreline erosion.
Wetlands play a major role in protection against floods, as these sites act as a sponge by lowering the flow of water in case of rains, snow, and floodwater. Since only 3% of water is available for drinking which is mostly present in the arctic. Wetlands play a significant role to replenish the groundwater.
Having Ramsar sites will act as an entry barrier for any organization which intend to exploit the wetlands. In addition, Wetlands that are already declared as Ramsar sites will now see an increase in the biodiversity. The increase will be spread across the waterbirds, the fishes and other flora & fauna.
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