1. Developing inventory of wetland
The wetlands are vital part of the hydrological cycle which support varied biological diversity and provide a wide range of ecosystem services, such as waste assimilation, water purification, flood mitigation, erosion control, ground water recharge, regulating micro-climate etc. Wetlands also support significant recreational, social and cultural activities providing livelihood to many people.
Ministry of Environment and Forests & Climate Change is in the process of developing the inventory of wetlands. Ramsar Convention on Wetlands define wetlands as: "areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres". This definition has been accepted by MoEF&CC.
Under the National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP), the Ministry has identified 115 wetlands in 24 States and 2 Union Territories of the country for conservation and management. 26 wetlands covering an area of 689131 ha falling in 15 States have been designated as Ramsar Sites of International Importance in IndiaNational Wetland Atlas of India – 2011.
2. National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA)
For conservation of lakes and wetlands, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change has been implementing two separate Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), namely the National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP) and the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP).
To avoid overlap, promote better synergies and to ensure that conservation/ management works, an integrated scheme NPCA was proposed with the objective of conserving aquatic ecosystems (lakes and wetlands) through implementation of sustainable Conservation Plans, and governed with application of uniform policy and guidelines.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in their meeting held on 7th February, 2013, has approved the proposal for merger of National Lake Conservation Plan and National Wetlands Conservation Programme into a new scheme ‘National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems’ (NPCA). The merged scheme to be operational during XII Plan Period at an estimated cost of Rs.900 crore shall have a funding pattern of 70:30 cost sharing between Central Government and respective State Governments (90:10 for NE States).
The principal objectives of the new scheme is holistic conservation and restoration of lakes and wetlands for achieving desired water quality enhancement besides improvement in biodiversity and ecosystem through an integrated and multidisciplinary approach with a common regulatory framework. The scheme would contribute to reduction of pollution loads and improvement in biodiversity as also the goods and services provided by these water bodies to the stakeholders.
Besides the implementation of comprehensive Management Action Plans, the new scheme on conservation and management of lakes and wetlands in the country shall also cover in its scope, the inventorization and information system on lakes and wetlands, National level directive on criteria for lakes and wetlands, Regulatory Framework (Revisiting the Wetlands Rules, 2010), Capacity building at State Government and local body levels, Evaluation etc.