Kollam: The government has started procedures to determine the borders of Vembanad, Ashtamudi and Sasthamkotta Lakes which are the major wetlands in the state. The move to conserve these areas which are identified as Ramsar sites was initiated as widespread encroachment and pollution are destroying them. Five Revenue Divisional Officers (RDO) were assigned to evacuate the encroachments and protect the wetlands.
Kollam RDO C G Harikumar was assigned to conserve Ashtamudi and Sasthamkotta Lakes. As Vembanad Lake is spread over various districts, the RDOs from four districts are in charge of conservation. Anupam Mishra (Alappuzha), Snehil Kumar Singh (Ernakulam), Jolly Joseph (Kottayam) and Afsana Parveen (Thrissur) are assigned for this duty.
The Directorate of Environment directed to start survey of the lakes immediately. The amount for the procedures will be paid by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board. A satellite survey was conducted in these places under the leadership of the State Wetland Authority Kerala (SWAK). However, a land survey is necessary to get the real picture of encroachment.
According to studies, the Ashtamudi Lake that had an area of 53.89 square kilometre has shrunken to 44.77 square kilometre now. Sasthamkotta Lake had an area of 475 hectares in 1982 and it became 373 hecatres by 2002. Also it was found that the area of Vembanad Lake reduced by over 40 percent within a century.
In 2018, a committee headed by Mullakkara Ratnakaran had recommended legislature for the conservation of backwaters and lakes in the state. It was also recommended to plant and nurture mangroves on the borders of backwaters as a bio fence.
Rs 2 crore was handed over to the state as the first instalment of the five-year plan of the Centre for wetland conservation. This amount will be spent for the conservation of wetlands and the protection of biodiversity.
The Ramsar Convention was formed following a world summit held in Ramsar in Iran in 1971 regarding the conservation of wetlands. It was established for the protection and intelligent consumption of the wetlands and resources. Presently, there are 169 members in the treaty which stands for the conservation of 2293 wetlands in the world. 26 wetlands from India also are part of this.