Karela Fry

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World Wetlands Day

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Kangla writes:

2 February each year is celebrated as World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. WWD was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and made an encouraging beginning. Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular. With the suggested World Wetlands Day theme for this year on wetlands, biodiversity and climate change, The Ramsar has proposed 2010 WWD slogan as “Caring for wetlands – an answer to climate change” .

I'm sure I left my other leg here

Flamingo at the Thane creek mudflats

The most important wetlands in and around Mumbai are the mangrove swamps. So what’s happening to these? DNA reports bad news:

Development on mangrove land will be subject to the Bombay high court’s scrutiny, according to a directive given by justice JN Patel and justice BR Gavai on Wednesday.

In a PIL filed by the Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG) seeking conservation of mangroves, the petitioners were seeking compliance of a high court order of October 6, 2005, in which the state government was ordered to notify mangroves as protected forests.

The court also indicated that no non-forest activity should be conducted in mangrove areas in Maharashtra, even if they are not notified as protected forests. “No destruction will be permitted in mangrove areas,” Patel said.

Arguing for BEAG, senior counsel Navroz Seervai told the court that 230 sq km of mangrove cover along the state’s coastline was still not notified as protected forest by the state. “The Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) had identified the area but the government failed to notify it despite the time extensions granted to it,” Seervai said.

An earlier report from TOI gave the economics of the problem:

The dredging of sand and dumping of debris along waterways in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is causing rivers and creeks to shrink at an alarming rate, say activists whose Public Interest Litigations (PILs) on the issue are being heard by the Bombay High Court. At stake is the biodiversity of sensitive ecosystems as well as the uninterrupted flow of water from the Thane and Panvel creeks into the Arabian Sea, which is an important shipping zone for Mumbai.

An IIT professor’s [Shyam R Asolekar, head of IIT-B’s Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering] recent letter to the court said he has already told the state that an audit needs to be done to check the “present status of destruction of habitats of fishermen and fishes due to prevailing rampant sand dredging and mining’’. The letter also says it is the “need of the hour’’ that the construction industry’s “footprint’’ in these zones needs to be “minimised’’.

Little egret

Little egret fishing in the tidal waters near mangrove swamps in Thane

DNA reports on a stalled wetlands project:

Mumbaikars may have to fight it out to get the mangrove wetland centre, proposed nearly two years ago on 452 hectares of marshland along the Eastern Express Highway at Bhandup.
Announced on March 3, 2008, by then state forests minister Baban Pachpute, the proposal has since been wrapped in red tape.

According to the proposal, the Conservation Action Trust (CAT) would develop the centre in association with state forests department. But the department has not yet decided whether to forward the proposal to the Union environment ministry.

The idea was actually conceived in 2001. In all, 22 ponds would be developed to attract different birds at the centre. “Every year, around 1.5 million migratory birds visit the area and over 200 species have been recorded,” Goenka said.

Romulus Whitaker, the man who developed the famous crocodile park in Chennai, will provide guidance on the species of reptiles found in the area. “We aim to include the Thane creek under the Ramsal Convention for Wetlands, which was signed by 140 countries in 1971 to save wetlands all over the world,” Goenka said.


TOI reported:

A photography competition will be held at Powai on February 2, World Wetlands Day, to create awareness about the need to restore eco-sensitive coastal areas and marshlands. Over 25 prominent photographers have submitted their entries, which capture the flora and fauna of wetlands, including mangroves and flamingos.

Goldin Quadros of the World Wildlife Fund said: “Participation is free. It will encourage photographers to explore natural and urban wetland environments, and discover their bounty of wildlife species.”


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 2, 2010 at 4:49 am

One Response

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  1. […] must have been happening on World Wetlands Day. What a criminal act. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Sit […]

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