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Assam’s Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary and eco-sensitive zone notification

Context:

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the eco-sensitive zone of the Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary on the south-western edge of Guwahati.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of the Environment and Ecology, Protected Areas)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Deepor Beel
  2. Deterioration of the Beel
  3. Eco-Sensitive Zones

Deepor Beel

  • Dipor Bil, also spelt Deepor Beel is located to the south-west of Guwahati city, Assam. It is a permanent freshwater lake, in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, to the south of the main river. 
  • It is also called a wetland under the Ramsar Convention which has listed the lake in November 2002, as a Ramsar Site for undertaking conservation measures on the basis of its biological and environmental importance.
  • The Dipor Bil is reported to provide, directly or indirectly, its natural resources for the livelihood of fourteen indigenous villages (1,200 families) located in its precincts.
  • The hydrophytic vegetation of the beel has been classified, based on ecological adaptation, into the following categories with their floristic elements:
    • Aquatic vegetation like Giant Water Lily, water hyacinth, aquatic grasses, water lilies and other submerged, emergent and floating vegetation are found during the summer season.
    • In the dry areas, during winter, aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation are seen
    • In deep open water area, marshy lands, mud flat, emergent vegetation, water hyacinth patches, net-grass land patches are reported
    • Migratory water-fowl, residential water-fowl and terrestrial avifauna are common in paddy field areas, dry grassland areas and scattered forest areas.
    • The beel is a natural habitat to many varieties of birds. 219 species of birds including more than 70 migratory species are reported in the beel area.

Deterioration of the Beel

Natural and anthropogenic causes for the deterioration of the beel are many. The major reasons reported in the beel ecosystem are.:

  • Proliferation of human settlements, roads, and industries around the periphery (in the eastern and north-eastern sides) causing pollution problems.
  • Waste water from different parts of the city and the adjoining areas
  • Construction of broad-gauge railway line on the periphery of the Beel
  • Allotment of the government vacant land to private party by Government settlement department
  • Brick kilns and soil cutting
  • Hunting, trapping and killing of wild birds and mammals
  • Unplanned intensive fishing practices (both during day and night)
  • Pamohi garbage dumping site adjoining the Dipor Bil

Eco-Sensitive Zones

  • Eco Sensitive Zones are fragile areas around protected areas declared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • They are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  • Among activities prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone are hydroelectric projects, brick kilns, commercial use of firewood and discharge of untreated effluents in natural water bodies or land areas.
  • No new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the eco-sensitive zone, whichever is nearer, except for small temporary structures for eco-tourism activities.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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