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Bhupender Yadav calls for a participatory and whole-of-society approach to conserving wetlands

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Regional Consultation Workshop for Restoration and Integrated Management of Wetlands held at Imphal, Manipur

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change organised a regional consultative workshop for the restoration and integrated management of wetlands for the North-eastern states in Imphal, Manipur on 29th – 30th May 2023. The workshop is fourth in the series of regional workshops (previously held in Srinagar, Goa, and Kochi) under Mission Sahbhagita. The Sahbhagita mission aims to conserve and effectively manage a network of 75 wetlands of national and international importance in the country with an all-inclusive ‘whole of society’ and ‘whole of government’ approach.

During the workshop Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change  Shri Bhupender Yadav interacted with the site managers and the State Wetland Authorities (SWAs) of the North-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, to understand the priorities and challenges of wetlands conservation at their respective states/sites. The Union Minister emphasised that wise use of wetlands aligned with its natural ecology is critical for survival of these ecosystems. Highlighting the importance of multi-stakeholder approach Shri Yadav said “different agencies should come together and collaborate for wetlands conservation”. Shri Yadav stated, “wetlands often get neglected as public goods. The entire society needs to come together to protect these ecosystems”. He also emphasised that change in personal behaviours is the most important aspect if we have to conserve the wetlands. Mission LiFE is critical for nudging people for conserving wetlands.

 Shri Yadav mentioned that the conservation of wetlands cannot be the government’s responsibility alone. Wetlands are essentially societal assets, with governments acting as a trustee of these assets on behalf of the citizens of India.  Unless the entire society participates and partners in wetlands conservation, tangible change cannot be achieved ,he added.

Chief Minister of Manipur, Shri N. Biren Singh, addressing the workshop, expressed his pleasure that all north-eastern states were represented at the workshop, and made tangible discussions for conservation of wetlands heritage. He underlined the need for proactive actions for removing Loktak from Montreux Record. 

Shri L. Susindro Meitei, Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Administration and Public Health Department, Government of Manipur, Shri Th. Biswajit Singh, Minister of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Government of Manipur, Shri M. Asnikumar Singh,  Chairman, Loktak Development Authority, Shri M.H. Khan, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Forests, Environment and Climate Change, Government of Manipur were present at the workshop, Dr A.K. Joshi, PCCF and HOFF, Government of Manipur. Dr Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, Joint Secretary, MoEFCC conducted the daylong deliberations, having detailed interactions with states for effective implementation of wetlands programme.

The Union Minister also released the publication ‘Cultural Significance of Indian Wetlands’. The publication showcases the cultural values of wetlands – and provides examples of traditional knowledge, local beliefs, festivals, community practices and folktales related to wetlands.

In the first half of the workshop, the states presented an overview of wetlands conservation in their states, successes and challenges. The presentations reflected on wetlands delineation, inventorization, preparation of brief documents, management plan formulation, and communication and outreach actions.

Mr Anoop Kumar V. from Sanatan Dharma College, Kerala, gave a detailed presentation on developing eco-friendly value added products using water hyacinth by employing the underprivileged communities as workforce. In the second half, three plenary discussions were held. The first discussion focussed on  Amrit Dharohar and integration in Mission LiFE. The second discussion on Operationalising the Save Wetlands Campaign focussed on the key objectives and targets of the Save Wetland Campaign. The third discussion on Integrated Management Planning focused on the challenges in preparation and implementation of Integrated Management Plans.  On the second day of the workshop on 30th April 2023, Shri Yadav will visit Loktak Lake along with the workshop participants.

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