10 more wetlands from India get the Ramsar site tag

Context: In a major recognition towards Government of India’s effort towards conservation, restoration and rejuvenation of its wetlands, Ramsar has declared 10 more wetland sites from India as sites of international importance.


With this, the numbers of Ramsar sites in India are now 37 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,067,939 hectares.  Maharashtra gets its first Ramsar site (Nandur Madhameshwar) , Punjab which already had 3 Ramsar sites adds 3 more (Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve, Nangal) and UP with 1 Ramsar site has added 6 more (Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and SarsaiNawar).

What is a wetland?

A wetland is an area of land that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, and it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. The Centre had in September 2019, identified 130 wetlands for priority restoration in the next five years. 

The highest number of such identified wetlands are in Uttar Pradesh (16) followed by Madhya Pradesh (13), Jammu & Kashmir (12), Gujarat (8), Karnataka (7) and West Bengal (6)

What is the status of wetlands in India?

Wetlands in India account for 4.7% of the total geographical area of the country. These wetlands provide numerous ecosystem goods and services, but are under stress.

Reasons for wetlands loss in India are urbanization, land use changes and pollution. There is no proper regulatory framework for conservation of wetlands in India. Future research should focus on institutional factors influencing their condition.

Though there is no separate legal provision for wetland conservation in India, it is indirectly influenced by number of other legal instruments. These include: 

·         Indian Fisheries Act 1857; 

·         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 Cess Act 1977;

·         Maritime Zone of India (Regulation and fishing by foreign vessels) Act 1980, Forest (Conservation) Act 1980; 

·         Environmental (Protection) Act 1986, Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 1991;

·         Biodiversity Act 2002; and 

·         Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.

Provisions under these acts range from protection of water quality and notification of ecologically sensitive areas to contributing towards conserving, maintaining, and augmenting the floral, faunal and avifaunal biodiversity of the country’s aquatic bodies. However, the term wetland was not used specifically in any of these legal instruments.

About Ramsar Convention

The Ramsar Convention signed on February 2, 1971, is one of the oldest inter-governmental accord signed by members countries to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance. 

The major aim of the Ramsar list is to maintain and develop an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits. 

Once included in the Ramsar list, the wetland get the protection under its guidelines.

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