The State Government is all set to prepare management action plan (MAP) for two of its major reservoirs - Hirakud and Rengali. For the first time, a comprehensive MAP is being planned for man-made wetlands in the entire country.
The Odisha State Wetlands Development Authority, which decided to prepare the MAPs, is planning to rope in Wetland International, South Asia (WISA) for the task.
The action plans will be in keeping with the development plans of the State since these two rerservoirs are major sources of irrigation, points for flood control, feed industries and meet water demands of urban and rural bodies.
“Consultations with the State’s wetland development authority is underway about the project which, if approved, will take anything between eight months and one year to complete,” said Ritesh Kumar, WISA’s Conservation Programme Manager.
A major mandate for the MAP will be to strike a balance between the economic and ecological benefits so that the two reservoirs are managed well for the posterity.
Since inter-state issues are involved with Hirakud, the MAP will have to carefully address issues relating to water holding and release during key periods.
The move for preparation of MAPs comes at a crucial time when Odisha is facing challenges in flood control given the fact that Chhattisgarh has constructed a series of barrages and dams on the upstream of Hirakud which create uncertainty downstream. In fact, both Odisha and Chhattisgarh Governments are now holding joint meetings to sort out the problems.
Management of these man-made wetlands also depends a lot on how the natural and anthropogenic sedimentation is balanced.
Apart from the enormous economic services they provide, the two reservoirs are also key to survival and sustenance of some major natural wetlands of the State since they are based on riverine systems.
While Hirakud controls the fate of Chilika and Ansupa lakes, Bhitarkanika mangrove eco-system is dependent on Rengali which is why the wetland development authority has zeroed in on WISA which had collaborated with Chilika Development Authority to prepare the MAP for Chilika lagoon.
“We need to keep an eye on climate change, issues of flood and drought in the years to come. How we manage the reservoirs will decide the future of State’s natural wetlands like Bhitarkanika and Chilika. Rajasthan’s Bharatpur National Park is a glaring example of how human needs have strangled the world-famous wetland,” said a senior official of Forest and Environment Department adding, if timely plans are not made, natural wetland eco-systems will face threat of collapse.