BENGALURU: The Ministry of Forest and Environment is coming up with a dedicated wetland policy to ensure conservation of lakes, wetlands, and the species which depend on them. Interestingly, the wetland policy is being chalked out by the forest ministry and the state forest department after taking inputs from 100 odd countries, from where migratory birds start their journey to India.
To chalk out the policy, the Central Asian Flyway meeting will be held in Gujarat in February. Experts from Bombay Natural History Society are also working on the policy with the ministry. Officials and experts from 100 countries such as China and Cambodia and even African countries will participate in the meeting. The Indian states that are going to take part are those where migratory birds come and halt - Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
Experts and officials pointed out that the policy is being chalked out at the right time, soon after the death of at least 18,000 migratory birds at Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan. They also added that the policy will propose getting the Ramsar site tag for Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Magadi lake in Gadag and backwaters of Krishna in Bagalkot district and of Tungabhadra in Balari district. A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental environmental treaty established by UNESCO in 1971.
Sanjai Mohan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, told TNIE that though a meeting is held once every three years in other countries, this is the first time that it is being held in India. All stakeholders are being involved in formulating the policy. Since not much attention has been given to wetlands so far, a policy is the need of the hour, he said. The idea is to create awareness about the wetlands and to take up measures to protect the birds and other animals.
He added that while the policy is being readied, the department has decided to hold awareness programmes at educational institutions and for locals on the importance of wetlands and migratory birds. Meanwhile, Forest Department officials will also be trained on how to identify migratory birds, where do they halt and for how long, where do they come and what is their importance. He said that it is crucial to train the staffers because only then will they be able to ensure that the birds are not harmed.