Planning Commission member K. Kasturirangan has said that a general improvement programme for effective management and conservation of wetlands in the country will be evolved under the 12th Five Year Plan.
Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the Prof. K. V. Thomas endowment 10th national seminar at Sacred Heart College here on Wednesday, Dr. Kasturirangan said that the degradation and shrinkage of the wetlands in the country remains a serious issue.
“It's a matter of concern. We need to earmark some money available under the 12th Plan to protect the wetlands,” he said.
Asked about the recent satellite images which had shown a nearly 30 percent reduction in the Kerala backwaters, Dr. Kasturirangan said that it's a major issue that needs to be looked into to find proper solutions. He said the conservation and management of the Vembanad Lake will also be included as part of the nation-wide programme.
An expert committee appointed by the Planning Commission had earlier received a report that the fragile ecosystem of the wetland is influencing the life and health of the people living in and around the region. Officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests had pointed out that reclamation of the lake for developmental activities needs to be reassessed including the encroachments on the lakefront, canals and drains.
Some of the activities proposed by the Planning Commission for conservation and management of wetlands include survey and demarcation of the areas, restoration measures, catchment area treatment, protection measures, biodiversity conservation, pollution control measures, education and awareness, siltation control, weed control and research and development.
Dr. Kasturirangan also said that there was an urgent need to step up efforts for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the country.