Implications of New Wetland Rules 2016.

By Vijaylakshmi Suman

In order to protect and conserve wetlands as it is one of the important ecosystems, Central Government had made rules for conservation and management of wetlands in 2010. In March 2016, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has come up with new set of rules with an intention to protect wetland. The draft Wetland (Conservation and Management) 2016 seek to replace previous formulated Wetland (Conservation and Management) 2010. The deadline to submit objection and suggestion to the draft rules was May 31 2016.

There are many differences between old i.e. 2010 rules and new draft rules of 2016. Some of them are, removal of Central Wetland regulatory authority (CWRA) and replacing it by a State Level Wetland Authority in each state. Furthermore, 2010 rules had long list of prohibited activities like reclamation of wetlands, disposal of hazardous substance and many more, which have been removed from the draft. Process of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was compulsory in 2010 rules, on the contrary 2016 draft rules makes no mention of any such process. The new rules have generated response from environmental activists, organization and legal experts. Environmental activists from Kerala do not seem to be very pleased as they feel new regulations have failed to involve stakeholder communities as there is no mention of community involvement (Nandakumar,2016). Lack of prohibited activities in new rules would make the conversion of wetlands easy whenever it comes in the way of development.

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Image: Dheerpur, Delhi

In Assam, environment groups Aaranyak and ActionAid are worried for Assam’s rivers and wetlands as new rules provide very less protective measures as compared to 2010 rules. Definition of wetlands do not cover ‘river’ at all which is alarming from environmentalist’s point of view. They want at least those parts of river or rivers directly connected to wetlands should also be identified as part of wetlands ecosystem and thus needs protection. They wish central government to also consider traditional community rights and how these new rules will impact communities. New rules should be people-centric but also keeping in mind the protection of larger eco-system of wetlands.

Two major arguments which are emerging frequently due to new rules are issue of protection of larger eco-system of wetlands and involvement of stakeholder communities. What is interesting in this debate is emphasis being laid on involving stakeholder communities which seems relatable to previous post on involving local community in restoration plan. Corresponding to Dheerpur wetland restoration, involving local population of Gandhi Vihar, Nirankari in restoration plan seems valid.

 

References:

Nandakumar, T. (2016, May 21). Wetland rules: govt. has to respond fast. The Hindu.
Retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/wetland-rules-govt-has-to-respond-fast/article8628355.ece

Nagarajan, K. (2016, May 31). New conservation rules may soon apply to wetlands. What are they? The Indian ExpressRetrieved from http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/wetlands-india-draft-wetland-conservation-management-rules-national-green-tribunal-2826399/

Assam environmentalists alarmed at proposed Wetland Rules 2016. (2016, June 3), Business StandardRetrieved from http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/assam-environmentalists-alarmed-at-proposed-wetland-rules-2016-116060301190_1.html

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