New Delhi: The Ministry of Enviornment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has submitted three nominations from India for Wetland City Accreditation (WCA) of Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) & Udaipur (Rajasthan) under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, said an official statement on Thursday. These are the first three Indian cities for which nominations have been submitted for WCA based on the proposals received from respective State Wetlands Authorities in collaboration with the Municipal Corporations.
The wetlands situated in and around these cities provide a plethora of benefits to its citizens in terms of flood regulation, livelihood opportunities, and recreational and cultural values. Sirpur Wetland (Ramsar site in Indore), Yashwant Sagar (Ramsar site closer to Indore), Bhoj Wetland (Ramsar Site in Bhopal), and several Wetlands (Lakes) in and around Udaipur are lifelines to these cities.
The three nominated cities include:
Founded by Holkars, Indore is the cleanest city in India and the recipient of India’s Smart City Award 2023 for its best sanitation, water and urban environment. Sirpur Lake, a Ramsar Site in the city, has been recognised as an important site for water bird congregation and is being developed as a Bird Sanctuary. A strong network of more than 200 wetland mitras is engaged in bird conservation and sensitising local community to protect Sarus Crane.
One of the cleanest cities in India that has proposed conservation zones around the wetlands in its draft City Development Plan 2031. Bhoj Wetland, Ramsar Site is the city’s lifeline, equipped with the world-class wetlands interpretation centre, Jal Tarang. Additionally, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation has a dedicated Lake Conservation Cell. A network of more than 300 wetland mitras is engaged in wetland management and conservation of Sarus Crane.
Located in Rajasthan, the city is surrounded by five major wetlands, namely, Pichola, Fateh Sagar, Rang Sagar, Swaroop Sagar, and Doodh Talai. These wetlands are an integral part of the city’s culture and identity, help maintain the city’s microclimate, and provide a buffer from extreme events.
Recognising the importance of wetlands in urban and peri-urban environments and to take appropriate measures to conserve and protect these wetlands, the Ramsar Convention during COP12 held in the year 2015 approved a voluntary Wetland City Accreditation system under Resolution XII.10 which recognizes cities which have taken exceptional steps to safeguard their urban wetlands. The Wetland City Accreditation scheme aims to further promote the conservation and wise use of urban and peri-urban wetlands, as well as sustainable socio-economic benefits for local populations. Additionally, the Accreditation seeks to encourage cities that are close to and dependent on wetlands, primarily Wetlands of International Importance, but also wetlands with other conservation category status, to develop and strengthen a positive relationship with these valuable ecosystems. To be formally accredited, a candidate for the Wetland City Accreditation should satisfy the standards used to implement each of the six international criteria mentioned Operational Guidance for WCA of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. This voluntary scheme provides an opportunity for cities that value their natural or human-made wetlands to gain international recognition and positive branding opportunities for their efforts in demonstrating strong positive relationships with wetlands.
The ongoing Amrit Dharohar initiative of the Environment Ministry announced as part of this year’s budget also aims to achieve similar goals by promoting unique conservation values of Ramsar Sites. In this context, WCA will not only generate public awareness about conservation of urban and peri-urban wetlands but will also help in implementation of Amrit Dharohar across the country, said the statement.