Wetlands Rule 2010

Wetlands refer to the transitional areas between the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In the wetlands, land may be covered by shallow water or the water table is usually at or near the surface. It is an area of marsh, peatland or water, permanent or temporary with water which is either static or flowing, fresh or brackish in the inland and coastal areas. It includes lakes, reservoirs, lagoons, creeks, backwaters, and man-made wetlands

Wetland Rules 2010

The central government has officially identified 115 wetlands in India. In India, there are around 26 wetlands identified under the ramsar convention of 1971.

Ramsar convention is an international Treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971 to ensure wetland protection, wetland conservation, and wetland management. The Ashtamudi wetland in Kerala, Bhitarkanika and Chilika Lake in Odisha, Kolleru Lake in Andhra Pradesh are famous wetlands of India.

Functions of wetland

  • Wetlands preserve water and biodiversity and help in water supply and purification.
  • Wetlands act as the buffer against natural disasters such as floods, storms cyclones etc.
  • Wetlands are helpful in waste assimilation, groundwater recharge and controlling soil erosion.
  • The wetlands also support recreational activities, social and cultural activities. They are rich in biodiversity with a range of floral and faunal diversity.
  • Wetlands can help in mitigating and adapting to climate change as they can act as carbon sinks and can also provide a habitat to the biodiversity.

Threats to wetlands

  • Several activities have been identified which are threatening the sustainability of wetlands.
  • Activities such as drainage and landfills, disposal of domestic and industrial waste in the wetlands etc. are threatening their sustainability.

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Wetland conservation and Management rules 2010

  • The wetlands conservation and management rule 2010 was notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forest to reduce and prohibit the degradation of wetlands in India. Its objectives were wetland conservation, wetland protection, and wetland management to ensure that no further degradation of wetlands takes place in India.
  • The wetland conservation and management rule 2010 specifies the activities which are harmful to the wetlands. It includes activities such as industrialization, construction activities, dumping of untreated sewage and solid waste, reclamation etc. The wetland rules prohibit these activities in the wetlands.
  • The activities such as harvesting and dredging can be carried out with prior permission from the concerned authorities.
  • The rules have classified the wetlands to ensure wetland protection, its easier identification and management.
  • To ensure proper implementation of these rules, the central wetland regulatory authority has been set up. It also performs all the functions related to the management of wetlands.
  • The central wetland regulatory authority had representatives from government, and a number of expert members to ensure wetland protection and wetland conservation in the best possible manner.
  • The wetland conservation and management rules, 2010 was a necessary step to promote wetland protection and conservation in India.

Amendments in the wetlands rule 2010

The wetlands rule 2010 has been amended in 2016 and again in 2017. The new Wetland (Conservation And Management) rules, 2017 will replace the Wetlands rule, 2010. It will prohibit a range of activities in the wetlands of India.

Salient features of Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017

State wetland Authority (SWA)

  • The wetlands conservation and management rules, 2017 stipulates to set up State Wetland Authority in every state and union territory. It would be headed by the state s environment minister and would include other government officials.
  • Experts in the field of wetland ecology, fisheries, hydrology, landscape planning and social economics would be appointed by the state government.

Functions of State wetlands Authority (SWA)

  • The functions of state wetland authorities include developing a comprehensive list of activities which would be regulated and permitted in the wetlands in their zone of influence.
  • State Wetland Authorities would also recommend various additional prohibited activities for specific wetlands. It will also define strategies, wise use of the wetlands and would undertake conservation measures through enhanced awareness of stakeholders and local communities.
  • The wise use of wetlands refers to the principle of Sustainable use of the resources of wetlands which is compatible with wetland conservation, wetland protection, and wetland management.

Prohibited activities in the wetlands

  • The prohibited activities in the wetlands include conversion of wetlands for non-wetland uses such as encroachment of any kind, setting up new industries or expansion of old industries, dumping of waste and discharge of untreated sewage from factories, cities, villages and other human settlements.

Digital inventory of all wetlands

  • The new wetland conservation and management rules, 2017 makes it mandatory for the state authorities to prepare the list of all the wetlands in the state. The list of wetlands has to be notified within 6 months.
  • Based on this data, a comprehensive digital inventory of all the wetlands will be prepared, and this inventory would be updated in every 10 years.

National wetlands committee (NWC)

  • The wetlands conservation and management rules, 2017 stipulates for setting up national wetland authority (NWC) to be headed by the secretary of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change. The functions of NWC would be to monitor the implementation of these rules and oversee various works carried out by the state governments.
  • The NWC will also give advice to the union government on various policies and action programs for wetland conservation, wetland protection and wise use of wetlands. It would recommend the designation of wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar convention.
  • It would also advise the government in collaboration with the International organizations on various issues related to wetland conservation and wetland protection etc.

Comparison of wetlands conservation and management rules 2010 and 2017

  • Both the Wetland Conservation and Management Rules, 2010 and 2017, emphasizes maintaining the ecological character of wetlands for their conservation and management.
  • Ecological characters are the processes and components which make the wetland a unique ecosystem. For example the Chilka lake Orissa is a lagoon characterized by a mix of saline and freshwater flows and the flow of each type has to be maintained.
  • The 2010 rules had made some related criteria explicit such as ecological sensitivity, historical value, natural beauty etc which have been omitted in the Wetland conservation and management, 2017 rules.
  • The restriction of activities on the wetlands would be determined by the State wetland Authority on the principle of wise use . However, there are concerns that whether the wise use would be able to maintain the ecological character of wetlands or not.
  • In the new rules, the salt pans have been omitted as wetlands. Earlier as per the 2010 rules, the salt pans were identified as wetlands as they are important sites of migratory birds and other forms of biological diversity.

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