According to Ramsar Convention, wetland is defined as, “areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed 6 metres”.
Key Features of the Guidelines
- Prohibits conversion for non-wetland uses, setting up or expansion of industries in wetland areas.
- Prohibits disposal of construction and demolition waste within the wetlands.
- Each state and Union Territory will have to set up wetland authority that will define strategies for wetlands conservation.
- The authority should also enhance awareness among stakeholders and local communities.
Problems associated with Wetlands
- Wetlands are under threat of disappearing because of ongoing human activities like encroachment, pumping out of water from the wetland, conversion of the wetland into agricultural land, pollution due to agricultural runoff and lack of educational and environment awareness among locals.
- Restoration and conservation of wetlands becomes impossible once they are destroyed, as these are neither identified nor categorized.
- States, in coordination with the central government, failed to perform their statutory duty of identifying all wetlands in their respective jurisdiction as per the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010.
- Presently, only notified wetlands are given protection. Small wetlands get ignored in the process.
- No data bank is available on wetlands except on the Ramsar sites. Without data the extent of wetlands is not ascertained and thus encroachment becomes easier.