Ten more Indian wetland sites, including the first from Maharashtra, have received the tag of international importance under the Ramsar Convention — an inter-governmental global treaty to preserve ecological character of selected wetlands across the globe.
With the addition of these ten sites, one in Maharashtra, three in Punjab and six in Uttar Pradesh, the list of wetlands in India under the Convention has grown to 37 with surface area of over 10,679 sq km, an area nearly the size of Sikkim and Goa put together.
India’s list of 37 includes Sambhar lake of Rajasthan which had last year seen mass mortality of migratory birds due to avian botulism caused by a bacteria. This saline lake had entered the global list in 1990. Globally, there are over 2,300 Ramsar sites around the world, covering over 2.1 million sq km.
The new Indian sites include Nandur Madhameshwar bird sanctuary (Maharashtra); Beas conservation reserve, Keshopur-Miani community reserve and Nangal wildlife sanctuary (Punjab); Nawabganj bird sanctuary, Parvati Arga bird sanctuary, Saman bird sanctuary, Sarsai Nawar lake, Samaspur bird sanctuary and Sandi bird sanctuary (Uttar Pradesh).
“The site (Nandur Madhameshwar) is used by diverse group of species especially by resident birds for breeding and by migratory birds as a winter stopover site,” tweeted Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar while congratulating Maharashtra on getting its first Ramsar site.
Under the Ramsar (Iran) Convention of 1971, the member countries identify those sites which are recognised as being of significant value not only for the country or the countries in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.
“The inclusion of a wetland in the list embodies the government’s commitment to take steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained. The Convention includes various measures to respond to threats to the ecological character of sites,” said the global accord on its website.
The wetlands — land areas covered by water, either temporarily\seasonally or permanently — play a key role in flood control, water supply and providing food, fibre and raw materials. Besides, such land areas also support migratory birds from colder regions of the world in summers, apart from mangroves that protect coastlines and filter pollutants.
Sharing information on new Ramsar sites ahead of the World Wetlands Day (February 2), the environment ministry on Tuesday claimed that it has prepared a four-pronged strategy for the restoration of wetlands which includes preparing a baseline data, wetland health cards, enlisting wetland ‘mitras’ (friends) and preparation of targeted Integrated Management Plans.