Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the eco-sensitive zone of the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary on the south-western edge of Guwahati.
- The notification specified an area “to an extent varying from 294 metres to 16.32 km” as the eco-sensitive zone, with the total area being 148.9767 sq. km.
- But being adjacent to “fast-developing Guwahati”, the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary is “facing immense biotic pressure by way of human settlements and ever-increasing development activities”
- The Deepor Beel wetland expands up to 30 sq. km in summer and reduces to about 10 sq. km in the winter. The wildlife sanctuary measures 4.1 sq. km within this wetland.
- The zonation should help, but Deepar Beel’s water has become toxic and it has lost many of its aquatic plants that elephants would feed on. The wetland can breathe easier only if the railway track is diverted.
- No new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the eco-sensitive zone, whichever is nearer, except for small temporary structures for eco-tourism activities.
- Among activities prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone are hydroelectric projects, brick kilns, commercial use of firewood and discharge of untreated effluents in natural water bodies or land areas.
- City wastes as well as industrial effluents causing serious problem to the ecological and environmental values of the rich wetland that create a threat to all life forms and ecosystems in the Deepar Beel.
About Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary
- The Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary (DBWS) is located at Kamrup district in Guwahati, Assam.
- Deepar Beel is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Assam and the State’s only Ramsar site besides being an Important Bird Area.
- It is also called a wetland under the Ramsar Convention which has listed the lake in November 2002, as a Ramsar Site for undertaking conservation measures on the basis of its biological and environmental importance
- The wetland of Deepar Beel constitutes a unique habitat for aquatic flora and avian fauna.
- About 150 species of birds have been recorded in the sanctuary, out of which two are critically endangered, one endangered, five vulnerable and four near-threatened.
- Elephants regularly visit the wetland from adjoining Rani and Garhbhanda Reserve Forest and the wetland is an integral part of the elephant habitat.
- Besides these, 12 species of reptiles, 50 species of fish, six species of amphibians along with 155 species of aquatic macro-biota have been recorded in the sanctuary.
- It is considered one of the large and important riverine wetlands in the Brahmaputra Valley of lower Assam, India. It is categorised as representative of the wetland type under the Burma monsoon forest biogeographic region
- Deepor Beel is an open lake basin connected with a set of inflow and outflow channels.
- It is considered one of the staging sites for migratory birds in India; and some of the large congregations of aquatic birds in Assam during winter.
- The Rani and Garbhanga hills, the habitat of the Asiatic elephants in the southern side of the beel, are part of this ecosystem.
- It is the area that has been notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), as areas around the Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks and Protected Areas as requiring more protection due to their fragility.
- To manage and regulate the activities around these areas with the intention of creating some kinds of ‘shock absorbers’
- To provide a transition zone between the highly protected and relatively less protected areas.
- To give effect to Section 3(2)(v) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 which restricts the operation of industries or processes to be carried out in certain areas or to maintain certain safeguards to operate industries.
46 Ramsar Sites in India UPSC updated till August 2021 : Click Here