Wetlands Conservation

What are wetlands?

Wetlands are ecosystems located at the interface of land and water and wherein water plays a dominant role in controlling plant and animal life and associated ecosystem processes.
How are wetlands identified/notified in India?
Wetlands are notified and protected by the regulations issued under the Environmental Protection Act ( EPA ). The Wetland Rules, 2010 were notified under the EPA(1986) to identify and conserve wetlands and ensure that they are not degraded
What are the changes that government is seeking in this method?
Government has proposed to make changes in the notification rules, which are as follows:
  • Doing away with elaborate list of permissive and restricted activities.
  • Limited role of central government, state government sole authority for demarcation and notification of wetlands.
  • EIA ( environmental impact assessment ) condition removed.
  • Appeal to NGT against government decisions not allowed.
What is the objective of such move?
The objective is, wetland conservation alongside development in consonance with the goal of sustainable development.
What are the negatives of such move?
This move can undermine the objective in following manner :-
  • The draft does away with the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, which had suo moto cognisance of wetlands and their protection. Central wetland authority was best suited for notifying interstate wetlands. In new framework, interstate divergence on issues may pose problem.
  • The draft rules contain no ecological criteria for recognising wetlands, such as biodiversity, reefs, mangroves, and wetland complexes
  • Doing away with EIA is a violation of right of stakeholders whose economic, cultural ,social interests are attached with wetland.
  • Giving centre immunity from decisions taken by Central government may result in possible abuse.
  • General nature of restrictions such as “damaging the ecological character”, which is vague and may be exploited.