New Delhi: The environment ministry Thursday notified the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, to ensure better conservation and management of existing wetlands in India and to prevent their degradation.
The rules prohibit activities like industrialisation, construction, dumping of untreated waste, and reclamation which are harmful to wetlands. Activities such as harvesting and dredging may be carried out in the wetlands but only with prior permission from the authorities concerned.
"This is the first time that legally enforceable rules are being notified for such eco-sensitive areas in our country. This will go a long way in protecting our wetlands which are under severe threat," said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
There are 25 wetlands in the country and they are critical for human development and wellbeing as a large number of people are dependant on them for drinking water, food and livelihood.
Research suggests that over-exploitation of fish resources, discharge of industrial effluents, fertilisers and pesticides, and uncontrolled siltation and weed infestation, among other reasons, have wiped out or severely damaged over one-third of India`s wetlands.
Ramesh said the ministry has asked the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and other institutions to undertake a comprehensive mapping exercise, delineating all the wetlands in the country.
Under the rules, wetlands have been classified for better management and easier identification.
The Wetland Regulatory Authorities and Appraisal Committees have been set up at the central, state and district levels to ensure proper implementation of the rules and perform all functions for management of wetlands in India.
Apart from government representatives, each of these bodies will have a number of expert members to ensure that wetland conservation is carried out in the best possible manner.