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New wetland rules notified; states to make lists of wetlands

New Delhi: The Environment Ministry on Thursday notified the new Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, to prohibit dumping of industrial waste and effluents and related environmentally harmful activities.

Under the new rules that replace the 2010 rules, the central government has empowered the states and union territories to identify and manage their wetlands.

Under the new rules, the central government has constituted a State Wetlands Authority, Union Territory Wetlands Authority, and a National Wetlands Committee, beside instructing to create a dedicated web portal for the wetlands.

The new rules provide for conservation and management of wetlands; prohibition of their conversion for non-wetland uses, encroachment, setting up of any industry and expansion of existing industries, manufacture or handling or storage or disposal of construction and demolition waste, hazardous substances; prohibition of manufacture, storage and import of hazardous chemicals, hazardous microorganisms, e-waste and solid waste dumping.

The rules prohibit discharge of untreated waste and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages, and other human settlements.

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The states/UTs had been now asked to prepare their respective lists of all wetlands within three months and work on their conservation.

Facing encroachment and rapid urbanisation, the wetlands — marshes, swamps, bogs, large or small lakes, and ponds — according to key United Nations finding, are being lost more rapidly than any other kind of ecosystem.

The wetlands are naturally programmed to help with disaster control such as flood mitigation, water recharge, and are a source of water, food, medicinal plants.

So far, the Ministry has identified only 115 wetlands in 24 states and two union territories for conservation and management under the National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP).

“The central government considered it necessary to supersede the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, for effective conservation and management of wetlands in the country,” said a Ministry notification.

India is a signatory to international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, that seeks commitment from member-countries to conservation of wetlands within their territory.

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