At least half-a-dozen categories of wetlands spreading across the coastal belt of Andhra Pradesh remain the prime guardian of the coast, minimising the impact of natural calamities and devastation by tidal waves.
These natural wetlands- beginning from Itchapuram lagoon, Nowpada swamp and Sompeta wetland in Srikakulam district to estuaries of Krishna and Godavari rivers, Kolleru Lake, mangrove forest in Krishna Wildlife sanctuary to Pulicat Lake in Nellore district – are otherwise safe breeding destinations for local and migratory birds.
A significant number of communities depend on wetlands, earning livelihood through fishing, collection of seed of various fish species, while many of them are engaged in aquaculture.
At a time when the World Wetlands Day (February 2) 2016 with the theme ‘Wetlands for our future; Sustainable livelihoods’ stresses the need of conservation of wetlands, the existing proposals for various industries and attempts to downsize Kolleru Lake, India’s largest fresh water, may disturb the fragile ecosystem.
In recent past, Andhra Pradesh had witnessed outrage by coastal communities, while the government allowed the setting up of coal-based thermal power projects in Nowpada swamp and Sompeta wetland in Srikakulam district, where six persons were killed in two police firings during protests against thermal power projects in 2009 and 2011.
AP Co-ordinator of Bombay Natural History Society’s Indian Bird Conservation Network K. Mruthyunjaya Rao says: “The State government’s development model of allowing thermal power plants and downsizing of Kolleru Lake will destroy wetlands, causing irreversible impact on the coast.”
Mr. Rao warns that the recent Chennai flood was a consequence of disturbing wetlands and water bodies.
Eluru-based Wildlife Division will observe the World Wetland Day at Atapaka Sanctuary in Kolleru Lake by involving students and local residents.
World Wetlands Day 2016 today