Navi Mumbai: Environmentalists have written to the prime minister regarding the notification and conservation of satellite-mapped wetlands in Mumbai and its suburbs along with the lakes created under the Amrit Sarovar Scheme across the country.
They have raised concerns over the slow pace of notifying wetlands and their conservation. There are around 39 water bodies in Mumbai and suburbs. However, they need to be notified and conserved.
PM's Amrit Sarovar project
Under the PM's favourite Amrit Sarovar project, over 80,000 water bodies have been created across the country. If these are not conserved and notified as wetlands, they face the danger of many water bodies that we lost under the name of urban development, the environmentalists said.
The ambiguity over listing and then notifying the Atlas-identified wetlands has created so much confusion that the nation is losing the precious water bodies to the haphazard urban development, the green groups pointed out.
Just about 1,255 wetlands have been notified for conservation of the 7.57 lakh wetlands identified by the Atlas prepared by the Space Application Centre (SAC) of the ISRO, as per the union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control (MOEFCC)-sponsored Indian Wetlands website.
“We draw your attention to the specific issue of gross delay in listing and notifying the wetlands as per the Wetland Atlas of 2006-07 and the decadal change atlas of 2016-17,” NatConnect director B N Kumar said.
Most of the wetlands, major and minor, are constantly facing the threat of being buried under the guise of development, he said and apprehended that the 75,000-odd Amrit Sarovars will also face the same fate as many wetlands that were buried in major cities if they are not notified as wetlands.
Kumar said, “The government has rightly stressed the importance of on its website Indian Wetlands as the source of water, flood and storm buffers, water purifiers, recreation and tourism destinations, places suited for multi-disciplinary studies on nature-society interactions, carbon sinks, habitat for migratory birds and biodiversity hotspots.”
“Our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands. Groundwater contained in aquifers accounts for over 95% of available freshwater and is the most critical source of drinking water and irrigation. Several wetlands help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater,” the government website says.
Demand for a wetland status
Kharghar-based activist Nareshchandra Singh agreed that Amrit Sarovars must also be given the status of wetlands and be brought under the purview of the Central and State Wetland Authorities. Experience in several parts of Navi Mumbai showed that the authorities remained generally unconcerned about protecting the wetlands, identified by the Atlas or otherwise.
Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, said: “we have lost several intertidal wetlands in Uran to the so-called infrastructure development during the last over four years with the authorities concerned remaining unconcerned.”
First of all, the district authorities ought to have to have confirmed the status of the wetlands as per the Atlas and reported for notification which would have paved the way for their conservation, Pawar pointed out.