Wetlands are supermarket of bio-diversity. Of the 26 Ramsar sites in India, three of them are in the northeast – Deepor Beel in Assam, Loktak Lake in Manipur and Rudrasagar Lake in Tripura.
- Deepor (Dipor) Beel located in the south-west fringe of Guwahati was listed as a wetland under the Ramsar Convention in November 2002. The Basistha and Kalmani rivers and local monsoon run-off are the main sources of water to the lake. Khonajan channel drains the beel into the Brahmaputra River.
- It is claimed that beel was an important dockyard of the Ahom army. The lake provides natural resources for the livelihood of 14 indigenous villages.
- An area of 414 hactre has been declared as Deepor Beel Sanctuary, and a remote sensing study reported that the wetland area has reduced to 405 hactre from 1990 to 2002.
- About 219 species of birds including more than 70 migratory species including the spot-billed pelican, lesser adjutant stork, Baer’s pochard, Pallas’ sea eagle and greater adjutant stork are found in Deepor Beel.
- Considering the richness of the bird varieties found in the beel, the Bird Life International has declared Deepor Beel as an Important Bird Area (IBA) with high priority for conservation.
- Migratory water-fowl, residential water-fowl and terrestrial avifauna are common in the area.
- Wild Asian elephants, leopard, jungle cat and the protected barking deer, Chinese porcupine and sambar are found around the beel. A broad gauge railway line skirts the lake, and is blocking the centuries-old elephant corridor.
- Waste water from different parts of the city and the adjoining areas are polluting the precious lake. Illegal fishing and garbage dump in the areas close to the Ramsar site is a direct threat.
- Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India and is famous for thephumdis(heterogeneous mass of vegetation) floating over it.
- The lake is located near Moirang in Manipur. It is fed by the Manipur river and several tributaries and ‘Ungamel Channel’ (Ithai Barrage) is its only outlet now.
- Located on this phumdi is the Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating national park in the world, and home to the endangered Sangai and Manipur brown-antlered deer.
- The lake’s rich biological diversity comprises 233 species of aquatic macrophytes of emergent, sub-emergent, free-floating and rooted floating leaf types.
- About 57 species of water birds have been spotted in the lake including 28 species of migratory waterfowl. It also has 425 species of animals.
- It serves as a source of water for hydropower generation, irrigation and drinking water supply. The 105 Loktak Hydropower Project was built in 1983.
- The lake was initially designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on March 23, 1990. It is also listed under the Montreux Record.
- Economic activities around the lake and encroachments by fishermen are major causes of concern.
- Rudrasagar Lake, also known as Rudijala, is in Melaghar in Sipaijala district of Tripura, about 52 kms south of Agartala.
- Ministry of Environment and Forest has identified Rudrasagar as one of the wetlands of National Importance for conservation. In February 2007, it was declared as a Ramsar site.
- Rudrasagar Lake is a natural sedimentation reservoir, which receives flow from three perennial streams — Noacherra, Durlavnaraya cherra and Kemtali cherra. After settling the sediment, clear water discharges into the river Gumati through a connective channel — Kachigang.
- Majestic Neermahal is situated near the north-east bank of the lake.
- Rudrasagar is a potential Important Bird Area and attracts a large number of waterfowl in winter. Among the rarer species recorded are the endangared Baer’s Pochard and near-threatened Ferruginous Duck.
- Dumping of garbage, deposition of solid waste and storage of construction materials along the shoreline is creating problems to the lake.
- Uncontrolled growth of weed species like water hyacinth, excessive algae was observed in the lake which caused loss of aquatic biodiversity.
- Large-scale use of pesticides and fertilizers in the area adjacent to the lake is posing threat to the lake.