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Assam's wetlands under threat, vanishing fast

Assam’s wetlands are slowly disappearing.

wetlands

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  14 Dec 2021 2:21 AM GMT

STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI: Assam's wetlands are slowly disappearing. The wetlands are facing an imminent threat despite laws for their preservation and conservation.

The wetlands in Assam cover an area of 1,400 sq km. There are around 3,000 big and small wetlands scattered all across the State. But these wetlands are under threat due to various factors like illegal encroachment, siltation, invasion of weeds, pollution and also due to the lack of steps for law enforcement.

In Guwahati, vast encroachment is going on in the Silsako wetland. This wetland has shrunk due to the rampant encroachment – from 340 hectares in 2001 to 133 hectares in 2012. Despite the 'Guwahati Water Bodies (Preservation & Conservation) Act-2008', illegal encroachments are going on in the Silsako wetland and also the Deepor Beel. In the Silsako wetland, large areas are encroached upon by bigwigs like political leaders. In the Deepor Beel, one can find a poster designating it as a reserved area. However, no stringent measures have been taken to protect the Deepor Beel from encroachment.

According to experts, the slow disappearance of the wetlands in Assam is a cause for alarm. Steps must be taken for the protection and preservation of the major wetlands by declaring them as protected areas such as 'community reserved', 'conservation reserved' and 'bird sanctuary'. Moreover, the areas of the wetlands should be monitored every 1-2 years with the help of satellite images. "The wetlands play an important role in the ecosystem. They are homes to innumerable species of wildlife. Their protection and preservation are of utmost importance," said experts.

In the city, the district administration and the GMDA (Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority) are responsible for the protection and preservation of wetlands while the Forest department is vested with the overall authority over the wetlands. However, the law-enforcement agencies seem to have failed to protect the wetlands.

Besides being critical to human and animal life, the wetlands also help to mitigate floods. But with the shrinking wetlands across Guwahati, the city's problem of artificial flood has only worsened over the years.

Considering the importance of the wetlands to maintain a balance in the ecosystem, the government must take immediate steps to free these wetlands of illegal encroachment and also to demarcate the wetland areas. Unless the government realizes the value of these wetlands and takes steps for their preservation and protection, our wetlands will continue to disappear.

Also Read: Migratory birds in wetlands of Assam

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