GUWAHATI, Aug 25 – Wetlands, which are locally known as beels, in Assam, belong to the society and not to any group of people. Wetlands are the precious gifts of nature. They should not be treated as mere stormwater reservoirs.
This was the view expressed by Dr Sarada Sarma, ex-head of the Department of Botany, Gauhati University (GU), while delivering a talk on wetlands of the State in the latest monthly meeting of the Senior Engineers’ Forum, Greater Guwahati. Dr Sarma told the gathering that the concept of wetland came into being in 1940 and there are over 5,000 wetlands of different shapes and sizes in the State. But, he maintained, there is no effort made to develop the wetlands of the State with the financial assistance extended by the Central government for the purpose. Till now, only Deepor Beel has been able to attain the status of an internationally recognised important wetland with a Ramsar Site tag attached to it. This was possible only because it fulfilled certain criteria stipulated by the international convention.
However, there are more such water bodies which also deserve similar recognition. Like Deepor Beel, these wetlands also attract thousands of migratory birds, and they are the rich areas of biodiversity, said Dr Sarma.
He lamented that though there has been much discussion about conservation of Deepor Beel and a legislation under the name and style of ‘The Guwahati Water Bodies (Preservation and Conversation) Act, 2008’ has been enacted by the State Assembly, unfortunately, till date, the Rules of the Act are yet to be finalized. This is despite the passage of six years’ time after the enactment of the legislation. On the other hand, the area of the Deepor Beel is shrinking due to human interference, said Dr Sarma.
The elderly engineers of the forum expressed the view that the government should be moved to engage select experts in tackling the issue without any delay.
President of the Forum SR Saikia presided over the function and it was addressed by Abhijit Dutta, ex-secretary of the Public Health Engineering Department, RM Das, H Talukdar, KG Deb Krori and Anni Laskar, among others, said a press release.