Dharamshala: Where an unusually warm winter is threatening fruit and spring food grain crops in Himachal Pradesh, impact of the globally warming environment can already be notice in Pong Dam wetland, an artificial lake created by damming River Beas that attracts a large number of migratory birds every winter and has even been declared a Ramsar International Site for conservation of the wetland.
A bird count for the 2017-18 winter season at the wetland put the number of birds at Pong Dam at 1.10 lakhs which is lower than the 1.27 lakh birds that were recorded in the 2016-17 winter season.
Speaking at the state level wetland day at Jawali, near Pong Dam reservoir, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Friday said“Himachal Pradesh encompasses a wide variety of wetlands, spread in various ecological zones which apart from biodiversity treasures were source of livelihood for the local community and have immense aesthetic and tourism values.”
He said that the Ramsar wet land at Pong Dam has become a famous bird sanctuary which had witnessed an increases in number of migratory birds mostly from Siberia, Central Asia, Russia and trans Himalayan region in Tibet. He said that there was tremendous Tourism potential in the state. Conserving bio-diversity, flora and fauna of the state will give boost to tourism and attract tourists. Himachal has been a home for migratory birds as could be seen from increase in number of species of waterfowls in wetlands.
He said number of birds visiting Pong Dam this year was 1.10 Lakh as compared to 1.27 lakhs in 2016-17. The reason being quoted is climatic change due to global warming which has affected all the wetlands of India. However the number of species as compared to 93 in 2017-18 has increased to 117 in 2018. The Chief Minister said behavioural changes of migratory birds need to be studied as well as proper measures should be taken to improve their habitats.
He exhorted that the people to participate actively to conserve and assist restore wetlands as they help reduce flooding, replenish drinking water, filter- waste, provide urban green spaces, and were a source of livelihoods. Urban wetlands should be integrated into a city’s sustainable future planning and development. The visitors should also be sensitised about littering, through Information, Education and communication programmes.
“The core objective should be to conserve and help restoration of wetlands and involve locals at planning, implementation and monitoring level,” he added.
The International theme for World Wetlands Day 2018 is ‘ Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future’.
The Chief Minister said that there were three wetland sites in Himachal viz: Ramsar wetland sites as Pong Dam in Kangra, Renuka in Sirmaur and Chandertaal in Lahaul and Spiti.Two more sites Rewalsar in Mandi district and Khajjiar in Chamba district have also been included by the Union Ministry of Environment and Climate change, for its conservation and management, said CM.
The Chief Minister also released a booklet ‘Major Wetlands of Himachal Pradesh’ and a calendar of Pong Wetland. He also congratulated children for making beautiful paintings on wetland.
The Himachal Pradesh State Wetland Authority (HPSWA), under the aegis of HP, Council for Science, Technology and Environment is acting as a nodal agency for co-ordination of the Wetland conservation programme in the state with active participation of all stakeholders department.
Additional Chief Secretary Smt. Manisha Nanda while addressing on the occasion gave a detailed account of the Ramsar sites and their importance. She exhorted people to conserve wetlands and wild life habitats, water bodies along with aquatic species.
Arvind Sharma is an award winning bi-lingual journalist with more than 20 years of experience.
He has worked with Divya Himachal, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhasker, Vir Partap, Ajit and PTI.
In 2010, he was conferred the Himachal Kesri journalism award. He reports on the Tibetan Government in Exile, politics, sports, tourism and other topics. He lives in Dharamshala.