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| Last Updated:: 10/05/2016

New rules to stamp out wetland reclamation










The central government has, under its new draft rules for wetlands (conservation and management), stated that the state must ensure that no wetlands are reclaimed and put to other uses.


The state has also been notified that there must be no diversions or impediments to natural water channels feeding the wetlands. The state must also stamp out any activity that can adversely affect the ecological character of a wetland. The new draft rules lays special emphasis on 26 Ramsar sites, which includes Nalsarovar.


Nalsarovar hosted nearly three lakh migratory birds this year, as water levels were optimal for avians. The birds could be viewed till mid April. Forest department sources said water levels this year were below two feet as the state government stopped supply of Narmada water for agriculture.


Nalsarovar is slowly losing its migratory birds as excess Narmada water — diverted from fields — flows into the lake. This leads to higher water levels, which are unsuitable for migratory birds to forage in. Sources said the new rules state that diverting notified wetlands to any other use will need prior approval from the central government.


The rules further state that wetlands in protected areas of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall be regulated by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. These rules shall apply to all notified wetlands in the state, not just Nalsarovar.


The rules also mandate that the government prepare management plans for notified wetlands. The Union government has made it mandatory for every state to form a 12-member wetland authority, which will be headed by the chief minister or state minister for environment and forests and have the chief secretary and secretary in charge of forests as members.


The authority will have to demarcate wetland boundaries and prepare land-use records using remote sensing. The new rules also states that direct zones which can affect the nature of a wetland will have to be clearly marked.






Source: The Times of India