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June 5, 2018

Protection of wetlands and coastal zones in Bengal

Protection of wetlands and coastal zones in Bengal

East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority (EKWMA) and Institute of Environmental Studies and Wetland Management (IESWM) are two agencies under the Environment Department. They carry out protection work for the wetlands in eastern Kolkata and research in management and conservation of wetlands across the State and coastal zones, respectively.

East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority (EKWMA)

EKWMA has the responsibility of managing the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW).

The East Kolkata Wetlands are situated along the eastern fringes of Kolkata. It contains a number of shallow fish ponds, agricultural fields and villages.

It is one of the most important Ramsar sites of the country, a designation implying the EKW as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’.

The wetlands possess the unique natural facility of waste water purification for the entire metropolis of Kolkata, the only Ramsar site in the world with such a function.

The wetlands are also a major source of food for the fish and other aquatic creatures inhabiting there, which in turn provide livelihood to a lot of people.

Institute of Environmental Studies and Wetland Management (IESWM)

IESWM carries out research on wetlands and coastal zones of Bengal as well as of other parts of the country.

It houses the State Project Management Unit (SPMU) of the World Bank, which aids the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project.

The Coastal Zone Management Plan of Bengal is being prepared as part of the project. As a result of the project, which is nearing completion, significant achievements have been made, like improvement of civic infrastructure and beach amenities in Digha, 100 per cent electrification of Sagar Island (where the famous Sagar Mela is held annually), livelihood enhancement through self-help groups (SHG), 25 cyclone shelters and eco-tourism activities.

The institute is also one of the eight authorised agencies in the country for the preparation of coastal regulation zone (CRZ) maps, which are referred to for getting the mandatory CRZ clearance for coastal projects. It has also prepared CRZ maps for the Central Government organisations, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Kolkata Port Trust (Haldia and Diamond Harbour sites).

Together, these two institutes have been doing a lot of significant work for various aspects of the environment of Bengal, and in the case of the latter, India too.

Source: Departmental Budget