Field work initiated to make a case of Dhanauri wetland as Ramsar site
In what could be termed as the initiation of fieldwork to notify the Dhanauri wetlands, officials from Wetland International and the state forest department on Monday begun ground inspections and terrain analysis to make a case for Dhanauri to be declared as a Ramsar site and a sarus crane sanctuary.
Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance. Once declared Ramsar sites, no other activity can be taken up at the wetland. India is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, 1971 in Iran. India has a total of 27 Ramsar sites, including Narora in UP.
The officials, aided by gram panchayat members from neighbouring villages, collected water samples and demarcated the coordinates of the area to draw a ‘habitat map’ of the wetland.
Once the habitat map is developed, the forest department will observe the land ownerships falling within the wetland, initiating the process of land acquisition.
“The forest department has made a good proposal so far. We as knowledge partners of the Union environment ministry will complete the technical work, and will make a case for the Ramsar site,” said Dr Ritesh Kumar, director, Wetlands International, South Asia.
The on-spot sample -- collected from one of the muddiest parts of the wetlands – found dissolved oxygen of 2 milligram per litre (mg/l) (against the required 4 to 8 mg/l), as well as high levels of phosphate nitrates. However, officials said parts of the wetland with cleaner water, away from agricultural fields, would have a better water quality.
“These values will differ from place to place. But with these values, we can establish a baseline about the existing condition, so we will build a case for it,” said Dr Kumar.
In 2018, the district forest department first sent its proposal to declare the waterbody as a wetland under Wetland Rules 2017. Forest officials said that upon notification, the ecology would improve as no other works which could harm the ecology of the area would stop.
“It is a wetland as per definition. Once notified as per the Supreme Court’s guidelines it will be officially notified as a wetland. We are speeding up the process for a Ramsar site as well. Once declared a wetland, it would bring a curb to the other works such as agriculture,” said PK Srivastava, divisional forest officer, Gautam Budh Nagar, and nodal officer appointed by the state government to initiate the legal processes.