New Delhi: Efforts for conservation of wetlands and water bodies today received a big boost with the government clearing a proposal for rolling out a new scheme for preservation of the country`s rich flora and fauna.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Environment Ministry`s proposal for the launch of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) by merging existing National Lake Conservation Plan and National Wetlands Conservation Programme.
The principal objective of the project is holistic conservation and restoration of the water quality of lakes and wetlands, besides improvement in biodiversity and ecosystem.
According to them, the scheme to be guided and governed under one umbrella scheme will also avoid duplication of efforts in enhancing water quality and conserving biodiversity.
The merged scheme will be operational during the 12th Plan Period at an estimated cost of Rs 900 crore on 70:30 cost sharing between the Central Government and respective state governments. It will be on 90:10 basis for North Eastern states.
The proposal was earlier placed before the CCEA in its meeting held March 1 last year. Then the Water Resources Ministry had raised some objections and the CCEA had directed the Environment Ministry to bring it back after addressing the concerns.
According to the government, the scheme would contribute to reduction of pollution loads and improvement in goods and services provided by these water bodies to stakeholders.
The new scheme is having conservation and management of lakes and wetlands in the country within its scope, to include inventory and information system on lakes and wetlands national level directive on criteria for lakes and wetlands, regulatory framework, capacity building at state government and local body levels, evaluation etc.
Wetlands are shallow water-bodies, transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems, with high biodiversity and productivity. They play an important role in bio-geochemical cycles and have potential for wastewater treatment.
Lakes are relatively deep, perennial water bodies where substantial growth of macrophytes is undesirable.