Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017

The new rules, notified by the environment ministry, decentralise wetlands management by giving states powers to not only identify and notify wetlands within their jurisdictions but also keep a watch on prohibited activities.

Seeking to protect over 2 lakh wetlands across the country, the Centre has come out with rules to identify and manage these ecologically fragile areas which play an important role in flood control, groundwater recharge, preserving plant varieties, supporting migratory birds and protecting coastlines. The new rules, notified by the environment ministry, decentralise wetlands management by giving states powers to not only identify and notify wetlands within their jurisdictions but also keep a watch on prohibited activities. It also indirectly widens the ambit of permitted activities by inserting the 'wise use' principle, giving powers to state-level wetland authorities to decide what can be allowed in larger interest. The notification says, "The wetlands shall be conserved and managed in accordance with the principle of 'wise use' as determined by the Wetlands Authority." The Centre's role under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, will be restricted to monitoring its implementation by states/UTs, recommending trans-boundary wetlands for notification and reviewing integrated management of selected wetlands under the Ramsar Convention — an international arrangement to preserve identified wetlands.

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