Environmental policy and the destruction of wetlands in India

The Central government in India officially recognised the significance of wetlands by framing specific rules for them in 2010 under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986. According to the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, wetlands in India are defined as “an area on or of marsh, fen, peat-land or water; natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salty, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres and includes all inland waters such as lakes, reservoir, tanks, backwaters, lagoon, creeks, estuaries and manmade wetland”. The rules also encompass the drainage area or catchment region of the wetlands as determined by the authority. The rules provide for the legal protection of wetlands, including by prohibiting activities like reclamation, industrial development, permanent construction on notified wetlands and the dumping of hazardous substances, solid waste and sewage. But here is the catch: in the more than seven years since these rules came into force, not one area has been notified as a wetland under them!

Read the full article in Frontline

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