"The subjective definition of "wise use" in the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017 does not seem to make any change in our treatment of wetlands as waste lands." Discuss critically.

Published: October 13, 2017

Wetlands are ecosystems located at the interface of land and water and wherein water plays a dominant role in controlling plant and animal life and associated ecosystem processes. The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016 will replace the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules of 2010 which govern wetlands in India.

  • The new rules stipulate setting up of a State Wetlands Authority in each State and union territories that will be headed by the State’s environment minister and include a range of government officials with one expert from each in the fields of wetland ecology, hydrology, fisheries, landscape planning and socioeconomics to be nominated by the state government.
  • The new authority will develop a comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted within the notified wetlands, define strategies for conservation and wise use of wetlands, and undertake measures for enhancing awareness within stakeholders and local communities on values and functions of wetlands.
  • Decentralized approach is in line with principle of cooperative federalism making states accountable
  • Conservationist have expressed concern as wise use has not been defined in the rules and left to state authority, rules allow central government to omit any of the (prohibited) activities on the recommendation of the authority if there are proposals from the state government or union territory administration .
  • Rules remain silent on process of appeal against the decisions of wetland authorities.

Wetlands provide indispensable ecosystem services and their conservation is necessary to prevent any ecological crisis by removing ambiguities from guidelines and laying down clear guidelines.

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