The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under its 'Namami Gange' program has taken up an initiative to conserve the wetlands in Ganga River Basin.
Deoria Tal, one of the high altitude wetlands in Uttarakhand is a wonderful scenic beauty. There are many such wetlands, that are highly productive ecosystems supporting rich biodiversity that protect the environment in various ways including supply of water, aiding in its purification and waste assimilation.
The wetlands play a crucial role in recharging groundwater, increasing the base flow of rivers and helping in erosion control. Several wetlands on the Ganga basins are home to key flora and fauna, including migratory species.
Speaking about the program, Sisir Kumar Rahto, Deputy Director-General of NMCG said the Namami Gange Project aims to rejuvenate the river through increasing the base flow and aquifers recharge and conservation of wetlands.
"Wetland plays an important role in forming the part of one of our `Aviral Dhara' which is to maintain the environmental flow in the river.
In our the first step we are conserving wetlands in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal," Rahto said.
"We are in regular conversation with the state governments to set up their wetland authorities. Almost all the states have done it and now we are going for a brief document for its rejuvenation," he added.
Some of these wetlands are under the risk of degradation through drainage, landfill, and over-exploitation of their natural resources. It causes a loss of biodiversity and disrupts the ecosystem services provided by the wetlands.
The NMCG in collaboration with the State Wetland Authorities will help in identifying and preparing Integrated Management Plans for management and conservation in the Ganga basin.
Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director-General of NMCG said, "If wetlands are in good condition and if we don't encroach them they also help in mitigating some pollution because some minor pollution in villages can be treated through the wetlands.
They improve groundwater and when the rain comes, they will get full. So, in the lean season, through this wetland, the river will start getting water. So, I think this is the whole mechanism. This is all integrated system," he added.
The program is also aimed at involving the community in the wetland conservation process through the Wildlife Institute of India. Apart from the government's efforts, NMCG has also appointed a team to educate the people in contributing to the rejuvenation of these water bodies.
Ecosystem-based and community-led models of rejuvenation of wetlands for enhancing `Aviralta' and `Nirmalta' of the river and water conservation in the Ganga basin are being integrated into the Namami Gange Programme.