Arunachal CM raises concern over declining wetland coverage
Itanagar, Dec. 4 (PTI): Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Wednesday expressed concern over decreasing area of wetlands of the state in the last ten years and stressed on the need for conservation of water resources through a comprehensive policy.
Khandu, who chaired the second State Wetland Authority (SWA) meeting here, urged the environment and forest department’s officials to work on conservation and management of wetlands and directed them to conduct survey and map of all water bodies in the state.
“Once water bodies are identified and mapped, we can notify these and work on conservation and management through the centrally sponsored scheme of National Wetlands Conservation Programme,” Khandu said.
According to a report of Forest Survey of India, during 2017 the northeastern state has witnessed a decrease of 195 sq km in the water body coverage within the forest as compared to 2005.
The underlying cause for receding water resources within forest coverage has been attributed to the degradation of catchment areas of many rivers and water bodies due to Jhum cultivation, known as the slash and burn agriculture, landslides, encroachment, deforestation and other developmental activities.
According to state remote sensing application centre’s report of 2010-11, Arunachal Pradesh has 852.54 sq km of the total geographical area underwater, which includes 790.012 sq km of rivers and 62.53 sq km of lakes and ponds.
During the meeting, Khandu asked officials to take help from the centre which has already been working in geotagging and mapping of the state’s geographical features and assets.
For research and documentation of the wetlands, the chief minister said universities and research institutes can be roped in by the department.
However, the water bodies are yet to be officially identified and mapped in line with the provisions of the wetland conservation and management rules, an official said.
Principal Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Lalram Thanga said that Arunachal Pradesh, despite having a vast resource of wetlands, is yet to get benefit from centrally funded schemes on conservation and management.
He emphasised on the need of conducting survey and mapping of the water bodies and formulating a comprehensive state wetland conservation and management policy.
State tourism secretary Sadhna Deori suggested that the tourism aspect may be taken into account while formulating a state policy on wetlands as almost all lakes are hot tourist destinations or can be developed into one.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director (Environment) D Dohu Robin said five wetlands -Shungatser Lake (Tawang), Pasang Sonam Tso (Shi-Yomi), Glaw Lake (Lohit), Mehao Lake and Sally Lake (Lower Dibang Valley district)- have been included by the Centre in the list of 100 such water bodies in the country for conservation and restoration.