40% of wetlands in India lost in last 30 yrs: Experts

Source: The post is based on the article40% of wetlands in India lost in last 30 yrs: Experts published in TOI on 8th January 2023

What is the News?

According to estimates by Wetlands International(WI), nearly two of every five wetlands in India have lost their natural existence in the last 30 years.

Note: Wetlands International is a not-for-profit global organization based in the Netherlands. It works to sustain and restore wetlands and their resources for people and biodiversity. 

Wetlands in India

India presently has around 2.25 lakh big wetlands and 5.5 lakh smaller ones. Of these, nearly 60,000 big wetlands are inside protected forest areas.

However, the increasingly rapid pace at which wetlands in the country are disappearing has set alarm bells ringing in conservation circles. 

Nearly 2 out of 5 wetlands in India have lost their natural existence in the last 30 years while 40% of water bodies have lost quality for the survival of the aquatic animals.

Najafgarh lake near Delhi and Pallikaranai in Chennai are prominent examples of rapidly drying water sources as these have so far shrunk by over 50%.

Reasons for loss of wetlands: Rapid urbanization, wetlands being abused as sites of waste disposal, lack of knowledge on wetlands and ecosystems are some of the reasons for the loss of wetlands.

Impact of Wetlands loss: When a wetland is destroyed, the whole system begins to collapse. A case in point is the 2015 Chennai floods. Degeneration of the city’s wetlands due to unplanned development compromised its resilience to floods. Consequently, the auto industry had to be shut down for 10 days leading to a colossal loss of Rs 10k crore. 

What should be the way forward to protect wetlands?

A multi-pronged approach that brings together various stakeholders is the need of the hour. 

The Bashettihalli wetland in the outskirts of Bangalore stands out as an example of how the district administration, local communities, industries and organizations like WWF-India worked together to conserve it.

 

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