Fresh lease of life for wetlands

Formation of committee to submit a report on their conservation is a welcome move by the State government

Updated - October 07, 2022 10:00 am IST

Published - October 07, 2022 09:59 am IST - VIJAYAWADA

A man struggles to take his boat through a thick growth of water hyacinth in Kolleru lake in Krishna district.

A man struggles to take his boat through a thick growth of water hyacinth in Kolleru lake in Krishna district. | Photo Credit: V. Raju

The reclamation and protection of wetlands in the State appear to be in sight, with the State government now paying fresh attention to their conservation after Forest and Environment Minister Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy acknowledged at the maiden meeting of the AP Wetlands Board recently that some of the wetlands have been encroached upon.

What gives hope is the constitution of an expert committee with senior officials of the Forest, Revenue and Agriculture Departments as members to devise a strategy to protect the wetlands given their importance in the fragile ecosystem. The committee has been mandated to submitted a preliminary report in a couple of months.  

As per a survey done by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the wetlands in Andhra Pradesh are spread over 30,000 acres. 

They are home to an impressive variety of flora and fauna, which mainly include migratory birds that fly in in huge numbers as part of their globetrotting and stay through the breeding seasons. 

During the said review meeting, Mr. Ramachandra Reddy observed that the wetlands were illegally occupied for various purposes and agriculture was one of them. 

Kolleru, Nelapattu, Pulicat, Coringa and Telineelapuram are the major wetlands on which focus was sought to be laid. The officials were told to avail the support of experts working on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention and other agencies doing commendable efforts to save the world’s wetlands.

Wetlands are defined as diverse hydrological entities such as lakes, marshes, swamps, estuaries, tidal flats, river flood plains, peatlands and shallow ponds. 

The intergovernmental treaty to conserve and wisely use the wetlands was signed in 1971 in the city of Ramsar in Iran. Since its inception, it has been called the Ramsar Convention. The convention recognises and designates different wetlands across the world as Ramsar sites.

To what extent the State government will succeed in protecting these precious natural habitats for a phenomenal variety of plants and animals remains to be seen. A renewed emphasis has been laid on it, which is encouraging, say environmentalists.

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