The number of protected wetlands in India under the Ramsar Convention increased by 50% in one year, taking the number of such sites of international importance from 27 in 2019 to 41 this year. The 49-year-old convention is an inter-governmental global treaty meant to preserve the ecological character of selected wetlands across the globe.
A day after environment minister Prakash Javadekar announced Kabartal in Begusarai (Bihar) getting the Ramsar tag, his ministry on Friday said two more sites were added to the list — Sur Sarovar in Agra and Lonar Lake on the Deccan plateau in Maharashtra. Getting Ramsar tag assumes significance for conservation of wetlands in a dedicated manner. Besides playing a key role in hydrological cycle and flood control, wetlands provide water, food, fibre and raw materials. Wetlands — land areas covered by water, either seasonally or permanently — support lakhs of migratory birds from colder regions of the world in summers.
Sur Sarovar, also known as Keetham Lake, is a man-made reservoir. Created to supply water to Agra city in the summer, the wetland soon became an important ecological site that provides refuge to migratory birds and more than 60 species of fish. “Over 30,000 waterbirds are known to visit the reservoir annually,” the Ramsar Sites Information Service said on its website. Lonar Lake in Maharashtra was formed by a meteorite impact on the basalt bedrock. The site includes the lake as well as escarpments, which form the crater walls, and forested zones.
“Outside the lake, there is considerable diversity of plant and animal life, as springs which help feed the lake provide a source of fresh water. Inhabiting the site are 160 species of birds, including the vulnerable Asian woolly neck and common pochard, 46 species of reptiles and 12 species of mammals including the iconic grey wolf,” the RSIS said.