The recent Chennai Flood Disaster of Dec 2015 and the Jammu and Kashmir Flood disaster of Sept 2014 have underlined that Wetlands are important not only for biodiversity & livelihoods of millions, but they are an integral mechanism for flood control and regulation in Rural and Urban India.India is losing Wetlands at an alarming rate, as much as 38% in a decade (1991-2001). However, for the past four years, there has been a complete regulatory vacuum around the country’s wetlands, despite the Notification of Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules with much fanfare in 2010.After Wetlands Rules 2010 were notified under the Environment Protection Act, it was hoped that there will be clarity and direction in Protection of Wetlands in the country. The rules were notified after discussions with hundreds of stakeholders from across the country. (Although Notified Rules were entirely different that the Draft circulated for comments!) Wetlands Rules included constituting a National Wetlands Authority, Restricting and Regulating activities in notified Wetlands.
States were supposed to recommend wetlands for notification through a Brief Document.When SANDRP discussed this with the MoEF&CC, we were told that this is due to integration of National Lake Conservation Program (NLCP) and National Wetlands Conservation Program (NWCP) into a National Program on Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA). This integration was announced in 2013, and should have been notified promptly thereafter. New NPCA Guidelines mean that that the entire Wetland (Protection) Rules will be redrafted (referred to as ‘Revisiting Wetlands Rules 2010’).The responsibility for framing Guidelines was given to IIT Roorkee, but the Guidelines they put forth were unacceptable and have been rejected. Now a different agency is working on NPCA Guidelines, but there is no information in open domain about the status, what they will include and indeed, when will they be put in open domain for consultations.None of this has happened for the past 3 years. There is no clear roadmap as to WHEN this will happen.