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Wetlands threatened

India is already in the midst of a water crisis. Strangling wetlands will make it even worse. Despite the heavy rainfall, new kinds of construction made it impossible to allow water to seep in, writes Bharati Chaturvedi.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2008 22:24 IST

Wetlands all over India are under threat. The responses to last week’s story proves that. Readers from across India offer similar stories. In Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar, resident Rajinder Saini explains how they are concerned about a marsh nearby that offers space in a crowded city to birds and recharges ground water. The area is being filled up for building. In a city where borewells are part of life, shouldn't marshy areas be treated as valuable recharge zones? Clearly, preserving wetlands is not a priority of our government in Delhi. Even though it inundates us with advertisements to save water, it fails to safeguard sources that recharge our water.

In Madhya Pradesh, reader Proloy Bagchi, who lives next to the oldest man-made lake in India, the Upper Lake of Bhoj at Bhopal, offers fresh insights. Bhoj is a (protected) Ramsar site. But the government has made it into a profitable tourist site. The problem is, it's not eco-tourism.

The Upper lake was created in the 10th century to ensure water supply. Now, the MP State Tourism Corporation has allowed motor boats, a floating restaurant and several eateries on the lake side. Neither liquid nor solid waste is handled, most reaches the lake directly. Cultural programmes ignore the ecological sensitivity and add to the load. It is likely that even a hotel will be constructed at the lake’s edges. While the MPSTC may find it a profitable venture, it's a loss to the citizens, to whom Bhoj really belongs. One of their biggest assets is being destroyed, reducing their quality of living. Adding to this is the failure to clean up the waters, despite a multi-crore project. There are still 14 sewers flowing into this site, protected as it is by an international convention.

India is already in the midst of a water crisis. Strangling wetlands will make it even worse.

Wasting Rainfall

The past week has seen a lot of water, literally, flow into North Indian rivers. Despite the heavy rainfall, new kinds of construction made it impossible to allow water to seep in. I kept my eyes peeled for architectural exceptions to see if anyone can build in a way that allowed rainwater to percolate. Only the car park of a fancy Delhi market had made some attempt, in part because they used a park for parking in the first place. What a shame!