MoEF will screen the sites independently to decide whether they are eligible for nomination
Nearly five months after the Maharashtra forest department identified six prominent wetlands in the state as unique and, thus, eligible to qualify as potential Ramsar sites, five of them likely to be accorded approval for nomination by the state’s wildlife board on Thursday. Ramsar sites are governed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Members of the state wildlife board and forest officials say the forest department and state administration are positive about the idea and the proposal for nomination is likely to be approved in the meeting without any substantial modifications.
“We have received five fully drafted proposals out of the six identified sites. They are Jaikwadi (Aurangabad district), Ujni (Pune district), Sewri Creek (Mumbai district), Nandur Madhmeshwar (Nashik district) and Lonar (Buldhana district).
The proposal concerning Navegaon Bandh (Gondia) wetland has some glitches and we are reworking it,” said SWH Naqwi, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden of Maharashtra. He said nominating these wetlands as Ramsar sites will help get international attention and funding for better conservation. “The international attention will be in addition to the application of Wetlands (Conservation and Management), Rules, 2010, which provide a legal framework for conservation.”
Member of the state wildlife board, Asad Rahmani, said once the proposal is cleared on Thursday, it would be forwarded to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), which will then screen the sites independently and, after confirming their eligibility, send them to the Ramsar secretariat for consideration.
In early 2012, MoEF had asked the state government to compile a list of select wetlands for nomination as potential Ramsar sites. The sites were identified by August and are being taken up for consideration. Of the 26 Ramsar sites in India, not a single one is located in Maharashtra. Conservationists have been demanding recognition for several sites in the state for years.
Kolhapur-based conservationist J S Samant, who has worked extensively on wetlands in Maharashtra, said, “The state has only one natural freshwater wetland with some unique features, while the rest are man-made or marine. And that is the Lonar, which has gained international importance because of it being the only second such wetland which was created by a meteor strike. The notification of these wetlands as Ramsar sites should have been done long ago; better late than never.”
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