THE UNION Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has declared wetlands adjoining the Yeshwant Sagar (Indore), Govindgarh (Rewa) and Barna (Raisen) reservoirs to be of national importance.
The declaration paves the way for the water bodies to receive Central funding under the National Wetland Conservation Project (NWCP) for eco-hydrological regeneration. The MoEF announcement follows a report submitted by the MP Lake Conservation Authority (MPLCA) last year drawing attention to anthropogenic pressures on the lakes and the consequent environmental degradation.
Authority officials called for adopting a holistic approach to combat the ecological deterioration of the reservoirs, and entice increasingly reluctant avifauna species to return to the wetlands.
“After we submitted a feasibility report, the Ministry agreed with our assessment and included the wetlands in the list of nationally important reservoirs,” MPLCA revealed Senior Research Officer Sanjeev Sachdev.
The conservationist says MoEF directed the Authority to prepare a detailed action management plan for conservation and restoration of all three lakes. “A Rs 50 crore project for regeneration of the Govindgarh reservoir is already complete and was forwarded to the Centre in April. We expect to be able to complete the Yeshwant Sagar and Barna reservoir reports by the end of the year,” Sachdev added.
In its report on Yeshwant Sagar, the MPLCA expresses concern over soil and stream bank erosion caused by excessive grazing and agricultural practices in the catchment area and accumulation of silt, respectively.
The Lake Authority further lists prolific growth of shoreline and submerged vegetation, decline in fish production, degradation of avifauna habitat and deterioration of water quality as other pressing problems.
“Although it is only a marginal supply source for potable water, Yeshwant Sagar is a very important wetland in the water scarcity region of Malwa plateau from an ecological point of view,” stresses the report.
It argues for a proper hydrological assessment of Yeshwant Sagar and the Gambhir River that feeds the lake. The report also stresses the need for a bathymetric survey to assess the reservoir’s present storage capacity.
Once this is done, says the MPLCA report, fisheries should be developed as an initial lake cleaning exercise coupled with scientific watershed management and curative measures like introduction of grass carp along with Indian Major carps.
The report suggests encouraging the use of organic fertilisers, proper management of poultry waste in the catchment area so as to minimize inflow of nutrients and conversion of farm, poultry waste and aquatic vegetation to organic manure as a means towards conserving the lake habitat.
MPLCA scientists have also demanded the construction of silt traps across the feeding channels of the Gambhir River and planting of fast growing local species to control grazing in catchment area.
“Wherever necessary mechanical soil erosion control measures must be supplemented by biological soil conservation exercises, such as use of grass cover along the main water channels and slopes,” suggest the report.