Indore: City wetlands on death bed, cry for resuscitation

Indore: A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail. Indore has 26 such wetlands. However, most of them are struggling to survive under the onslaught of encroachments and overflowing sewage water.

The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of functions, including water purification, water storage, processing of carbon and other nutrients, stabilisation of shorelines, and support of plants and animals. On World Wetlands Day on February 2, we bring a bird’s eye view of Indore’s wetlands, their problems and possible solutions.

Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017

An area of marsh, fen, peat land or water; whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres, but does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes.

Ramsar Sites

A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an inter-governmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO, which came into force in 1975.

India has 7,57,060 wetlands covering an area of 15.26 million hectare, which is around 4.63% of its geographical area. At present, out of 2,187 sites protected under the Ramsar Convention, only 26 sites (with a surface area of 689,131 hectares) are in India.

Problems

The major problem that threatens wetlands used as source of drinking water is encroachment. Talking about the issue, advisor for water resource management Sudhindra Mohan Sharma said, “These large wetlands are basically backwaters that help flood control.” Bilawali, Pipliyahana and Sirpur lakes are major water-bodies saving Indore from floods. “However, none of these lakes are in a good condition and is facing encroachment,” Sharma said.

Possible solutions

“The reason we are able to protect and hope for survival of larger water bodies and wetlands is that people can directly see the benefit of having them,” environmentalist Megha Burve said. However, none of these lakes are protected and conserved.
“A lot of people are talking about conservation of these lakes and developing them into wetlands but no development has been undertaken to support the wetland ecosystem,” environmentalist Dr SL Garg said. The only possible solution for controlling encroachment around the lake area is strict implementation of law and maintenance. “Though there are laws, there are loopholes too that allow construction near these wetlands,” Garg said.

About larger wetlands: lakes

The essential reason that adds to the importance of these lakes is unique aquatic life. Many of these lakes act as source of drinking water. Bilawali Lake has a treatment plant as well.

Environmen talists Talk

We must enforce wetland conservation rules. There has been talks about it, but it is not enough. Sudhindra Mohan Sharma

Everyone has been talking and trying for conservation, but there are no results. We need to understand the importance of wetlands and work towards keeping them alive. Dr SL Garg

Delay in work for protection of wetlands will cost us our health eventually. These wetlands are protecting us from pollution and working as environment filter. ZU Khan

Everyone knows importance of saving water bodies and wetlands. However, the work is delayed and we are losing our natural resources. Megha Burve

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