“We are witnessing the disappearance of wetlands with nearly 90 percent of the world’s wetlands facing damage or degradation and in the case of Manipur we are facing degradation of wetlands.”
This was stated by Manipur Environment and Climate Change director T Brajakumar while speaking at the observance of ‘World Wetlands Day’ at NIT East Campus, Lamphelpat on Friday.
He said that it is the responsibility of everyone to protect these invaluable ecosystems.
He highlighted that out of 2400 Ramsar Sites around the World, 75 Ramsar sites are in India as of January 2023, of which Loktak Lake of Manipur is one of them. He also informed that about 1.65 per cent of the total geographical area of the state, i.e. 36,824.63 Ha have been reported under water during 1989-90, as per report on Land Use Survey Project on Manipur, State Remote Sensing Centre.
And as reported by the Space Application Centre, ISRO (January 1997), about 2.37 per cent i.e. 52,959 Ha of the total state’s geographical area is covered by water bodies.
Out of 708 wetlands of various categories identified in National Wetland Atlas 2009, 23 wetlands have been studied by the Technical Committee of State Wetlands Authority.
Out of the total wetlands reported in the Atlas, 168 wetlands have been reported by the respective deputy commissioner through ground verification.
Now, 23 wetlands have been recommended by the Technical Committee for sustainable management.
Out of 23 wetlands, seven wetlands are under process for notification as state priority and project activities at four wetlands started namely, Zaimeng Wetland in Kangpokpi district; Utra Pat in Bishnupur district; Yaral Pat at Imphal East; Waithou-Phumnom Pat at Thoubal and Imphal East district.
This year’s theme 2024 is “Wetlands and Human Wellbeing” and was celebrated with the goal to highlight how all aspects of human wellbeing – physical, mental, and environmental – are tied to the health of the world’s wetlands.
World Wetlands Day observation began in 1971 and is held on February 2 of every year following serious concerns about the disappearance of wetlands three times faster than the forest. It is also being observed to raise awareness about wetlands’ critical importance.
Speaking on the occasion Director of Environment and Climate Change T Brajakumar said, this year’s campaign highlights three main messages - that, investing in the sustainable use of wetlands means investing in the future of humanity; Wetlands can provide cities and their residents with multiple economic, social and cultural benefits that support human wellbeing and wetland restoration is essential to overcoming the climate-biodiversity crisis and to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit of all people.
He said human beings are dependent on life-sustaining ecosystems of wetland. However, about 35 per cent of the wetlands have disappeared since the 1970s and the remainders are vanishing three times faster than forests, he said. As a direct result, species are declining faster than at any time in human history and the pace is accelerating with wetland species declining most.
UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration [2021-2030] is a call for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world. So, by 2030, let’s reverse the decline of natural wetlands, he appealed.
Minister Th Biswajit Singh said that degradation of wetlands is a negative condition caused by direct or indirect human induced processes. Effects of decades of wetland degradation have become global environmental concern.
“Everyone has a responsibility to take part in development, as well as in protecting wetlands. It is not only for the government to protect wetlands. Now, the government has started their part of protecting wetland and people of the state should extend their hand in protection”, said the minister, adding that protection of wetland from degradation is for well-being of humans and the planet.
“Man cannot live alone on this planet without natural ecology”, said water resource minister Awangbow Newmai. He shared the importance of trees, animals and birds in the environment.
The minister also said that we are all blaming one another when it should be our responsibility too and not just the concerned authorities to protect our planet.
He further said that the wetlands of Manipur are degrading due to human activities. Protection of wetland is a collective responsibility, he added.
In connection with World Wetland Day, the directorate organised quiz competition, photo competition and spot painting competition on Wetlands of Manipur.
Prizes were distributed to winners in the competitions.
The observance was attended by officials of the directorate, students of various schools.