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World Wetlands Day 2024 celebrated at Sirpur lake, a Ramsar site in Indore

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India increases the tally of Ramsar sites to 80 on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2024

Dr Musonda Mumba appreciated the people’s participation in India for conservation of wetlands

The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in collaboration with Government of Madhya Pradesh, organised a national event at Sirpur Lake, Indore through Indore Municipal Corporation and Environmental Planning & Coordination Organisation (EPCO), Government of Madhya Pradesh to celebrate World Wetlands Day (WWD) 2024. The theme of WWD-2024 is ‘Wetlands and Human Wellbeing’ which underscores the critical role wetlands play in enhancing our lives. It highlights how wetlands contribute to flood protection, clean water, biodiversity and recreational opportunities, all of which are essential for human health and prosperity.

The event was inaugurated by Dr Mohan Yadav, the Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh and Dr Musonda Mumba, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, as a Special Guest who is visiting India to participate in the celebration of WWD 2024. The event was also graced by cabinet ministers of Government of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Jitendra Kumar, Director General (Forest) & Special Secretary, MoEF&CC, Dr Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, Joint Secretary, MoEF&CC, and other senior officials from Government of India and Government of Madhya Pradesh.

Three publications were also released during the event including revised guidelines for ‘National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA)’, ‘Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool: A Practitioners’ Guide’, and a Compendium on Phyto-diversity of Ramsar Sites in India’. The NPCA Guidelines 2024 provides specific guidance to the State/UT Wetland Authorities, Ramsar Site managers and knowledge partners on regulatory framework of wetland management in India including Framework Management Plan structure and steps to be followed for its preparation.

The compendium, developed by Botanical Survey of India, includes the rapid assessment of plant diversity in and around all the 75 Ramsar Sites of India under the aegis of Amrit Dharohar initiative of MoEF&CC and the practitioners guide is a self-appraisal tool to support adaptive wetland management and assess progress over time.

Two brochures were also released that included a brochure titled ‘Wetlands Conservation: Approach and Initiatives’ that highlights Government of India initiatives on wetlands conservation since its inception. The second brochure, ‘People’s Documentation of Biodiversity of 75 Ramsar Sites’ gives an overview of the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) situated around Ramsar Sites.     

Further, a series of educational videos developed jointly by MoEF&CC and Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET), NCERT were also launched for sensitising primary, middle and senior level school students on the importance of wetlands conservation and management. A film festival series titled ‘Wetlands for LiFE Forums & Film Festivals’ was also launched during the event.

Aligning with the ‘Save Wetlands Campaign’, this film festival will highlight the unique aspects and critical importance of wetlands and encompass several national and regional media consultations. A training module for Nature-guides developed under the Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP) of MoEF&CC was also released during this occasion.

Nukkad Natak (Street Play) was also enacted by students of Ambuja Vidya Peeth, Bhatapara, Chhattisgarh, the winning team of the country-wide Nukkad Natak competition organised by MoEF&CC and National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) during December to sensitize the participants about the importance of wetlands.

The winners of the National Slogan writing, Painting, and photography competitions on the theme of “Wetlands and Human wellbeing” were also announced.

Winners of National Painting competition:

1. First Prize: Bibhuti Bhushan Biswas, Class Viii, Chandanagore Banga Vidyalaya, West Bengal

2. Second Prize: Pinjala Akriti, Class Viii, St. John’s Public School, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

3. Third Prize: Dishank Chakraborty, Class Viii, Anand Academy, Guwahati, Assam     

Winners of National Slogan writing competition:

1. First Prize: Devashish

2. Second Prize: Tanmay Kumar

3. Third Prize: Manish Joshi

Winners of National Photography competition:

1. First Prize: Sirsendu Gayen, West Bengal

2. Second Prize: Sanjeevkumar Mathpati, Maharashtra

3. Third Prize: Dipabrata Sur

The event kicked-off with the inauguration of an exhibition by the Chief Minister Dr Mohan Yadav and Dr Musonda Mumba, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention. The exhibition saw participation from over 25 exhibitors representing different States, technical organisations, Government departments. The exhibition included stalls focusing on wetland products, wetland tourism, wetland livelihoods, Mission LiFE, Green Skill Development Programme by the Govt, and wetland conservation efforts in India by MoEF&CC and knowledge partners. It also showcased the widespread impact of ‘Save Wetlands Campaign’ run by MoEF&CC throughout the year with active participation from all States/UTs.

To showcase the efforts of young minds as part of the Save Wetlands Campaign, two selfie walls were also erected displaying the paintings and photographs from country-wide Painting and Photography competitions organised in a run up to the WWD 2024.

Speaking at the WWD event, Dr Mohan Yadav mentioned the efforts taken by Madhya Pradesh for conservation of wetlands including Sirpur Ramsar Site. Dr Yadav also requested the Secretary General to consider designation of Indore as the Wetland City.

Dr Musonda Mumba, Secretary General of Ramsar Convention while expressing her happiness to be in India for celebration of WWD 2024 spoke about the importance of wetlands and appreciated the contribution of India in furthering the cause of Ramsar Convention. She also assured that few more Ramsar Sites will be designated soon.

While setting the context of the event, Dr Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, National Focal Point of Ramsar Convention and Joint Secretary, MoEFCC, welcomed all the participants and presented the progress made under Save Wetlands Campaign run by Government of India during last one year and overall progress made by MoEF&CC in the field of wetlands conservation since 1985.

Dr. Jitendra Kumar, DG, Forest & Special Secretary, highlighted the significance of wetlands by stating 10 major rivers originate from the wetlands in the great Himalayas, and 70% of rice production comes from the water originating from these wetlands.

The celebration of World Wetlands Day started early morning with dignitaries along with other participants visiting Sirpur Lake for birdwatching. During the visit, the dignitaries also appreciated the infrastructure created for enhancing birdwatching experience. Several migratory birds along with endemic birds such as cormorant, red-crested pochard, Eurasian coot among others were sighted by the visitors. The dignitaries participated in a plantation drive as well.

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