Expressing concern over the decrease in wetland areas in State in the last ten years, Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu stressed on the need for its conservation and management by adopting a proper State policy.
“As the nodal agency, the state’s environment and forest department need to work on the conservation and management of the wetlands,” the CM said.
He was addressing the state wetland authority (SWA) at his office on Wednesday.
As per the Forest Survey of India Report 2017, the state witnessed a decrease of 195 square kilometres in the water body coverage within forest compared to 2005.
The underlying cause for the decrease in water bodies within forest cover has been attributed to the degradation of catchment areas of many rivers/water bodies due to jhum (slash-and-burn) cultivation, landslides, encroachment, deforestation and other developmental activities.
These water bodies, however, are yet to be officially identified and mapped in line with the provisions of the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules.
“All the water bodies of the state should be identified, surveyed and mapped properly,” he reiterated.
“Once these water bodies are identified and mapped, we can notify these through the State Wetland Authority and work on conservation and management through the centrally sponsored scheme of National Wetlands Conservation Programme,” Khandu suggested.
The Rules also mandate that all State Governments shall set up a State Level Wetland Authority entrusted with affairs related to wetland conservation, regulation and management under the relevant State bye-laws.
He suggested that help may be taken from the State Remote Sensing Application Center, which is already working in geotagging and mapping of the state’s geographical features and assets.
According to State Remote Sensing Application Center report of 2010-11, Arunachal Pradesh has 852.54 square kilometres of the total geographical area underwater, which includes 790.012 square kilometres of rivers and 62.53 square kilometres of lakes and ponds.
For research and documentation of the wetlands, Khandu said universities and research institutes can be roped in by the department.