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Comment on the National Wetland Conservation Programme initiated by the Government of India and name a few India’s wetlands of international importance included in the Ramsar Sites

Wetlands play a pivotal role in maintaining ecological balance by providing habitats for numerous species, supporting biodiversity, and regulating water regimes. Recognizing the importance of conserving these crucial ecosystems, the Government of India initiated the National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP).

National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP):

  1. Launch and Objective: The NWCP was launched in 1985-86. The program aimed to finance state governments to promote conservation and judicious use of wetlands in the country, ensuring that their ecological balance isn’t disrupted.
  2. Main Features:
    • Identification: The primary step was the identification of wetlands in need of conservation.
    • Implementation: Centrally Sponsored Schemes were introduced where financial assistance was provided to state governments.
    • Capacity Building: Regular training programs were conducted for State Wetland Authorities and other stakeholders.
  3. Incorporation into Integrated Management: In 2010, the NWCP was merged with the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) to form the Integrated National Wetlands Conservation Programme (INWCP) and the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-Systems (NPCA). This was done for an integrated approach towards conserving lakes and wetlands.

India’s Ramsar Sites:
The Ramsar Convention, signed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, emphasizes the conservation of important wetlands. India, as a signatory, has designated several wetlands of international importance as Ramsar Sites. Some of these are:

  1. Chilika Lake, Odisha: Asia’s largest saltwater lagoon, famous for its biodiversity, especially migratory birds.
  2. Sundarbans Wetland, West Bengal: A tidal halophytic mangrove wetland, home to the famous Bengal tiger.
  3. Loktak Lake, Manipur: The largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, known for its floating islands or “phumdis”.
  4. Sambhar Lake, Rajasthan: India’s largest inland saline wetland.
  5. Vembanad-Kol Wetland, Kerala: The longest lake in India, and the largest lake in Kerala.
  6. Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Rajasthan: A significant wintering area for large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China, and Siberia.

The NWCP signifies India’s commitment to conserving its wetlands, which are vital for biodiversity, socio-economic factors, and the climate. With the Ramsar designation, these wetlands gain international recognition, thus ensuring better conservation and management efforts.

February 2024