Delhi has been characterized by the presence of wetlands and marshes in the Yamuna floodplains in its history. These water bodies serve as important ecological functional units whose services are critical to proper and sustained functioning of the city’s ecosystem: During monsoons, wetlands function as reservoirs for surface run-off, preventing inundation of land; provide adequate groundwater to humans by recharging sub-soil aquifers; serve as sinks for carbon dioxide; and constitute habitats for a range of plants and animals, including migratory birds.

Yet, wetlands in the city today face the risk of being decimated as a result of mis-management of waste-water and growing pressures from development projects that led to draining and filling up of these water bodies. In fact, the wetlands which once extended from Azadpur to the present-day banks of the river have undergone extensive land-use change-out of 600 wetlands recorded in Delhi, 274 have already dried up, and 190 have been lost forever. The ones that survive are in a terrible state, with raw sewage, pollution loads and increasing encroachments. Hence, possible interventions to restore such wetlands would involve an intensive and comprehensive planning with active efforts from a myriad of actors, including local populations, government, non-government, and private agencies.

The Wetlands Programme of the Centre will actively undertake research and management of urban wetlands to restore and enhance their ecological and social functions, and ensure their sustainability.


  1. To restore urban wetlands with an aim to replenish multiple ecosystem services to urban societies.
  2. To research physico-chemical and ecological attributes of wetlands and understanding their functioning in the urban context.
  3. To study synergistic effects of hydrology, chemical inputs and climactic conditions on wetland biological productivity.
  4. To provide a space for lab-based research and hands-on learning of urban wetlands restoration and conservation.
  5. To serve as knowledge base for sound urban wetland restoration practices that could be used to conceive successful wetland restoration projects in the city


Explore our ongoing project at Dheerpur.


Urban Wetlands

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