India plans 10 new Ramsar designations in WWD ceremonies
PRESS RELEASE Embargoed for 12 Noon IST, Wednesday, February 2, 2000
More Wetlands to be Designated as Ramsar Sites
New Delhi -- The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has identified 10 new wetlands and started the process of designation as Ramsar Sites in consultation with the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India). The decision comes in the wake of the announcement by the Government at the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP7) held at San Jose (Costa Rica) in May 1999.
The 10 wetland sites represent different aquatic habitats and cover a total area of nearly 11 lakh (1.1 million) hectares.
The identified sites are: Tso Morari (Jammu & Kashmir), Lali Sanctuary (Arunachal Pradesh), Dipor Beel (Assam), Pong Dam (Himachal Pradesh), Kabar Tal (Bihar), East Calcutta Wetlands (West Bengal), Bhitarkanika Sanctuary (Orissa), Point Calimere Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu), Pulicat Lake (Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh), and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
To facilitate the process of designation of these sites, WWF-India is providing technical support to the Ministry, including information gathering and documentation of the selected sites aimed at preparing scientific monographs on each one of them.
The Government announcement coincided with the World Wetlands Day (February 2), which commemorates the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the Ramsar Convention, which came into being in 1971.
On the occasion, Mrs Malati Sinha, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, released an information brochure on wetlands, jointly produced by WWF-India and the National Institute of Ecology, Delhi. The brochure aims to generate public awareness about the importance of wetlands and their conservation.
Welcoming the decision, Mr. Samar Singh, Secretary General, World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India), said the announcement could not have come at a better time. Wetlands everywhere have come under severe threat as a result of ongoing drainage, land reclamation, pollution and over-exploitation of their resources. The decision to designate more wetlands as Ramsar Sites is a happy augury for wetlands conservation in the country and for the biodiversity wealth they nurture.
Since India became a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention in 1981, only six wetlands in the country have been designated as Ramsar Sites. This is in spite of the richness of aquatic ecosystem types in the country. The six Ramsar Sites in India do not represent even a fraction of the diversity of wetland habitats existing in the country. The government decision, therefore, assumes added significance, according to Mr Samar Singh, as also because there has always been a felt need for identifying additional wetlands for designation under the Ramsar Convention. Contd...