Three Ramsar sites in the state, namely Harike, Kanjli and Ropar wetlands, representing state’s rich flora and fauna are now posing a picture of neglect with the state government’s apathy over the years. Water pollution due to pollutants outflow from the adjoining industries to wetlands, erosion in the catchment areas, cattle grazing and fishing and eco-tourism activities as boating on the wetland, picnic, garbage pollution on the river banks are major concern. According to the official records, total area of these three wetlands 5,648 hectare.
According to ecologists, Harike Lake wetland regularly supports threatened ecological communities including 20,000 or more water birds and one per cent of the individuals in a population of several species. The wetland is facing problems of siltation which is causing the shrinkage of wetland area. Also, water pollution due to pollutants outflow from the adjoining industries to wetland is another reason for depleting ecology there. Other reasons which affect ecology of state’s wetland are water pollution by pesticides, fertilisers from surrounding agricultural fields and sewage from the towns affecting water quality. Similarly, invasion and excessive growth of weeds chock wetland surface and waterways degrades ecology, erosion in the catchment areas and cattle grazing and fishing are among major threats to ecology of wetlands. Ecologists also said, due to several biotic, political and local pressures all three Ramsar sites are facing severe problems and losing Ramsar criteria of international importance and standards.
Showing his concern over the present condition of the wetlands, ecologist T K Roy, coordinator of the Asian Waterbird Census said that according to Ramsar guidelines, IUCN guidelines flora and fauna, biodiversity, ecology needed to be conserved and protected. He said, “Present condition of these wetlands will lead to degrading ecology, shrinking wetland area and declining biodiversity especially bird life diversity and population. Also, the criteria for eco-tourism are something different. At present, plying of motor boats in the Ropar wetland area is discouraging practise for habitat. In recent years, number of migratory birds has increased at the wetland hence the human interference should be discouraged.”
According to information available, only Harike Lake comes under Punjab Wildlife Preservation Department’s protected area. So this department has taken some initiative as plantation, habitat management, conservation awareness for its wildlife conservation and protection. Punjab Chief Wildlife Warden Dhirendra Singh said that the department keeps a regular watch on the activities going around the wetland’s protected area. “We are working on couple of initiatives to protect wetland’s flora and fauna. It is a continuous process on which we have told our teams to be on standby to keep a vigil round the clock. We have initiated the steps towards eco-tourism without disturbing the ecology,” he said.
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