GUWAHATI, Feb 4 – The State Government is planning to form a Deepor Beel Management and Development Authority. The Chief Secretary of the State will head it and the body is expected to be constituted soon.This was disclosed by the State’s Principal Chief Conservator (PCCF) of Forests RP Agarwalla. He was addressing a day-long workshop on wetlands of Assam organised by the environment group Aaranyak with support from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) complex here on Sunday.
Stating that the Forest Department is committed to preserve the biodiversity of the wetlands like the Deepor Beel, the PCCF said the Deepor Beel and the other wetlands are very much important for the biodiversity of the State.
“If we can develop sustainable eco-tourism, we will be able to tackle the issues related with livelihood of the communities depending on the wetlands like the Deepor Beel and the conservation of their biodiversity,” he said.
The participants of the workshop, who included a good number of environment activists from across the country and Bangladesh, called for steps to frame the State Wetland Rules for Assam under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. It also called for steps to establish a State-level statutory body for protection and management of wetlands in Assam.
Besides, they called for a provision in the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 for maintenance of healthy hydrological connectivity of wetlands. The same should be provided for in the State-level rules or other policy instruments when and if formulated, said the participants.
They also called for a special Act on the Deepor Beel under the provisions laid down by different national and State environmental Acts and a separate management agency can be set up for integrated management of Deepor Beel to ensure continuous monitoring of this Ramsar Site wetland.
Moreover, they said management of wetlands on trans-boundary rivers of India and Bangladesh should be taken up under the Joint River Commission (between India and Bangladesh).
Inaugurating the workshop, leading science propagator and environment activist Prof Anil Kumar Goswami, who was responsible for the Ramsar Site Convention recognition to Deepor Beel, described the wetlands like the Deepor Beel as the heritage of mankind. They are connected with the livelihood of the communities and their cultures.
The conservation roadmaps for the wetlands should be prepared by thoroughly consulting all the stakeholders, including the authorities concerned, taking into consideration all the developments taking place in and around the wetlands and their feeder channels.
Besides, a lot of follow-up activities will also be needed and all the aspects like the academic, economic and practical ones should be taken into consideration for the purpose, said Prof Goswami.
Prasanna Baruah of the Assam Remote Sensing Application Centre (ARSAC) of the Assam Science Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC) delivered the keynote address on the present status of wetlands in the State on the occasion.
In the function, Partha Jyoti Das of the Aaranyak presented the Aaranyak-IUCN study on hydrological connectivity of the wetlands in Assam. Prof Chandan Mahanta of the IIT Guwahati and Bushra Nishat of the IUCN- Bangladesh also spoke on the occasion.