Failure to conserve wetlands adds to growing water crisis in india

jatin
By jatin July 13, 2019 13:04

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None of the 29 states and 7 Union territories has notified their wetlands, which are critical for groundwater recharge and storing floodwaters during runoff events, as mandated under Wetland Rules 2017, shows government data.

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  • Wetland Rules 2017, which decentralize wetlands management by giving states powers to not only identify and notify wetlands within their jurisdictions but also keep a watch on prohibited activities.
  • According to these rules, all state governments had to notify the wetlands to be conserved by September 2018.
    • If wetlands are not notified, they remain vulnerable to encroachment or industrial pollution, which could, in turn, restrict rainwater flow and groundwater recharge.
  • Communication between states and the Centre uploaded on the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-Systems (NPCA) portal shows that only some states have initiated the process.
    • Some states have only submitted the minutes of the meeting of state wetland authorities.
    • Tamil Nadu, which is facing a severe water crisis this year, has only submitted a document pertaining to the constitution of a state-level wetland authority.
      • Chennai, which is facing severe water scarcity this summer, has lost most of the 600 water bodies it had until the 1980s, resulting in the loss of natural water recharge and drainage systems, the Centre for Science and Environment had found out after the devastating 2017 floods in the city.
    • The West Bengal government has submitted that its wetlands authority has allowed the construction of an elevated corridor over the east Kolkata wetlands in “public interest”.
      • The state didn’t, however, submit a list of wetlands;
    • Bihar has identified some wetlands.
  • India has about 757,060 wetlands, with a total wetland area of 15.3 million hectares, accounting for nearly 4.63% of the total geographical area of the country.
  • India Meteorological Department’s standard precipitation index (SPI) data for June to September last year showed that nearly half the country was mildly dry even at the end of the monsoon season.
    • Yet, conservation and revival of wetlands which includes swamps, bogs, marshes, deltas which would have acted as a buffer for the drought and flood events this year was not taken up, shows data put up on the NPCA portal.
  • Benefits of wetlands
    • Buffer for extreme climate change impacts.
    • Wetlands are like ecological kidneys of the surface water system. They have an ability to purify water, recharge groundwater;
    • They have micro-climate zones around them and a distinct ecosystem of their own

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Failure to conserve wetlands adds to growing water crisis

jatin
By jatin July 13, 2019 13:04