BHUBANESWAR: Union Minister of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) Prakash Javadekar on Monday announced that it would upgrade the Wetland Research and Training Centre (WRTC) into National Capacity Development Centre for Wetlands.
Javadekar’s announcement came on the eve of the World Wetlands Day which is celebrated on February 2 across the globe. On this day in 1971, the Convention on Wetlands was adopted at Ramsar in Iran in 1971 to promote conservation of wetlands.
The announcement may come as a major boost to wetland management programmes in the State led by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA).
In fact, a proposal to this effect by the State Government has been pending for long. In 2010, the then Forest and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had announced that the proposal would be considered but it was pushed to the back-burner after he was shifted and Jayanti Natarajan took over.
In his message, Javadekar said the Ministry accords priority to conservation of wetlands and the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) will continue to provide policy framework and support to States for integrated management of wetlands.
While the Ministry has initiated revision of existing regulatory framework on wetlands to give a greater role and ownership to State Governments in management of wetlands, the State Wetland Authorities will be entrusted the role of management and regulation of wetlands within their jurisdiction, he said.
The WRTC was established for research in limnology, marine biology, hydrology, coastal influence on lake, flora and fauna, weed management, advanced oceanographic and hydrological studies.
While the Centre has facility for remote sensing and GIS application, it was later upgraded with support from World Bank-funded Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan to have state-of-the-art facility for research in molecular biotechnology, biogeochemistry and ecosystem modeling.
Using WRTC, CDA has come up with real-time water quality monitoring system for Chilika, studied benthic community of the lagoon in relation to environmental parameters and its ecosystem health report card which has emerged as an effective tool for tracking and reporting the ecological health at global and regional scale.