World Wetlands Day 1998 in India
What is World Wetlands Day? At the 19th meeting of the Standing Committee, in late October 1996, World Wetlands Day was officially designated for 2 February of every year, the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, as an opportunity for governments, organizations, and citizens to undertake big and small actions intended to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.
This page is part of a series of reports on activities held on and about WWD '98 in various countries of the world, as reported to the Bureau. If you should know of any other activities not mentioned on these pages, send us a note (email@example.com) and we'll add it to this list.
REPORT ON VARIOUS WORLD WETLANDS DAY ACTIVITY FROM INDIA
NEW DELHI 2 February 1998 "India's wetland ecosystems are getting more rapidly lost or degraded because the Government has no clear and well defined policy for conservation of wetlands in particular and water resources in general. Despite the fact that the Govt of India is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance and has identified a number of important wetlands besides six sites already listed under the Convention, these wetlands are under increasingly greater threat due to poor and unscientific management. The recent incidence of shooting of migratory waterfowl in Hokerasar, one of the best wetlands in Kashmir, is a glaring example of the poor state of wetlands in the country. The world renowned Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, which is also a World Heritage site, is facing serious problems due to the failure of the government to manage it on a sound scientific basis."
These views were expressed by the participants at an International Conference on Asian Wetlands organised in New Delhi from 29 to 31 January 1998, by the Indian Environmental Society in association with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Science and Environmental Education Society. The main theme of the conference was "Wetlands for Sustainable Development". More than 70 participants from about several Asian Countries such as Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Australia, besides India, deliberated on such important issues such as biodiversity, community participation in management, sustainable use and wetland policies.
Wetlands are very important ecosystems because they are highly productive and harbour a significant proportion of the Earth's biodiversity. Wetlands are an integral component of the river basins (watersheds) and their management needs an integrated approach with other water management programmes and policies. The protection of wetlands is also closely linked with several other international treaties and conventions such as CITES, Bonn Convention on Migratory Animals, and the Convention on Climate Change.
The Conference discussed the status of wetlands and their management in all parts of the country- from Assam and Sikkim to Kashmir and Kerala. The participants observed many similarities between the issues and problems of wetlands of the countries in the Indian subcontinent and also in Australia. The participants recognised an urgent need for strengthening and improiving the functioning of the Ramsar Convention which does not have teeth for effective implementation in member countries. The Conference also recommended that national policies should be urgently formulated for conservation and proper management of wetlands and associated water resources including lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
The organisers released a Poster on wetlands on the occasion for creating greater awareness about wetlands, their functions and values, among the people, particularly school and college students. The Conference also decided to start a South and South East Asian Wetlands Forum for bringing together all NGOs and researchers interested in wetlands in the region. It was also decided to organise another regional Workshop on Environmental Education and Wetlands Conservation in Kathmandu (Nepal) during 9-11 April 1998.
A special Function was organised by the Science and Environmental Education Society at Jaipur (capital of Rajathan) on 2 February at the University of Rajasthan and also at Mahaveer Public School to educate the students about wetlands. The poster prepared by the Society was released simulataneously and distributed widely in all major schools.
PS: Copies of the poster have been sent to the Ramsar Bureau. We can send copies to all those interested in it. Exchange of similar material from other countries shall be greatly appreciated.
Brij Gopal (Chairman, Science and Environ. Education Society) School of Environmental Sciences Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Desh Bandhu (President, Indian Environmental Society) U-112, 3rd floor, Vidhata House Shakarpur, Vikas Marg, Delhi 110092 email: email@example.com
J. K. Tiwari, Assistant Manager of the Nature Conservation Centre in Kutch, Gujarat, reports that the Centre celebrated WWD '98 with a bird count, a painting competition in the schools, with distribution of award certificates; and popular articles published in the Gujarati daily newspapers (Mr Tiwari kindly sent a newspaper clipping in a very beautiful script which would probably not scan well, but the words "SOIL EROSION" appear in English right in the middle of it. More than that, we cannot say.)
Dr C L Trisal, Coordinator of Wetlands International - South Asia, reports that his office celebrated WWD '98 with a five-day training workshop on wise use of wetlands, in collaboration with the British Council and the government of West Bengal, in order to impart training to wetland officials in India.
Kamalrukh Katrak of Panto Inc. sends this summary of activities in Mumbai (formerly Bombay):
I wish to report on the activities that we had in Mumbai for World Wetlands Day. Panto Inc was instrumental in getting a group together to have a Discussion on "Protection of the Fragile Coastal Wetlands of Mumbai - Curbing Pollution of the Waters" on World Wetlands Day, 2nd February, 1998 in Mumbai. The Mangrove Society of India, Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Marine Ecology Centre, United States Asian Environmental Programme (US-AEP), along with Panto Inc and CII, Western Region co-hosted a discussion on "Protection of the Fragile Coastal Wetlands of Mumbai, India". The venue was Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co Ltd, Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli, Mumbai. It was attended by industrialists, government agencies, scientists, environmentalists, researchers, educational institutes, NGOs and of course us, the environmentally concious architects and engineers!!
Discussions included: Helping curb and control water pollution in the creeks, estuaries and other water bodies in and around Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; Wetlands conservation and development, along creeks and estuaries around the Island of Mumbai and New Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Discussion ended with the formation of a task-force team to engage in further such activities and a cruise of the Vikhroli Mangrooves, managed by Godrej and Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. Will update you on further developments.
Sincerely, Kamalrukh Katrak AIA IIA PANTO-ULEMA Architects, Engineers & Interior Designers, 47 West Division Street, Suite 355 Chicago, IL 60610 (312) 613-4405.
Dr. Vipin Vyas of the Society for Environmental Conservation reports these WWD activities from Bhopal:
WWD 1998 was celebrated by the Society for Environmental Conservation (SEC). To commemorate the"DAY" a special issue of "Nature Dialogue", the newsletter of the SEC was published on "Wetlands" with the Department of Limnology, Barkatullah University, Bhopal. The newsletter has been prepared in the form of an information pack on "Wetlands" and is being circulated among the college and university students and media persons. The newsletter was released by Prof. I.S. Chauhan, Vice-Chancellor of Barkatullah University. SEC has also prepared a desk calendar of 1998 showing the medicinal value of aquatic and wetland plants. The calender was released by Dr. S.N. Dwivedi, Director General of State Council of Science and Technology (Govt. of M.P.). The calender is being marketed for fund raising to sustain the activities of the SEC. A "WETVISIT" was also organized by the SEC and the Department of Limnology for University students on the local wetland (Bhoj Wetland). The students collected macrophytes from the wetland to prepare a herbarium which will be kept in Dept. of Limnology.
Impact of the activities
- The newletter on wetlands was circulated among the media persons and a regional Hindi newspaper wrote an editorial column on the importance of wetlands.
- The newsletter will be included in the resource material to be given to the participants of Young Scientists Congress to be held at Gwalior in March 1998.
- The students of Dept. of Limnology have decided to market the wetland calender for fund raising for the SEC.
The activities started on World Wetland Day will continue throughout the year for long lasting impact. "Wetvisits" and "Wetcamps" will be organized for school and university students. Interaction is solicited with like-minded organizations and individuals.
For details contact: Dr. Vipin Vyas, Secretary, Society for Environmental Conservation, E-4/177, Arera Colony, Bhopal 462018 (India). Phone + 91 - 755 - 563062.