GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
A recent audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out illegal construction and violations of environmental norms in two Ramsar sites in West Bengal, the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) and the Sunderbans.
What’s the issue?
There were illegal constructions in the EKW and Coastal Regulation Zone area in Sunderbans. However, such violations even in these ecologically fragile areas were rarely found to have been penalised; on a couple of rare occasions, (when) they were done, it was in compliance with the Kolkata High Court’s orders.
What do the rules say?
CRZ notification disallows construction of residential buildings in the No Development Zone.
Issues and challenges:
- Small patches of mangroves are being lost gradually and quietly due to their indiscriminate destruction for either coastal development or short-term gains.
- These patches are observed to be enriched habitats of several rare and threatened flora and fauna.
- The continued loss of shoreline mangrove ecosystems has created fragmented and fragile mangrove habitats for rare taxa and framed barriers to their movement and dispersal.
- This irreversible loss of biodiversity is often neglected, which could never be compensated with any ‘cut the established and plant the new’ theory.
About Indian Sundarbans:
- Covers 4,200 sq. km and includes the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq. km — home to about 96 royal Bengal tigers (as per the last census in 2020).
- It is a world heritage site and a Ramsar site (a wetland site designated to be of international importance).
- It is also home to a large number of “rare and globally threatened species, such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), and the vulnerable fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).”
- Two of the world’s four horseshoe crab species, and eight of India’s 12 species of kingfisher are also found here. Recent studies claim that the Indian Sundarban is home to 2,626 faunal species and 90% of the country’s mangrove varieties.
The EKW, a unique peri-urban ecosystem that lies on the eastern fringes of Kolkata, covers an area of about 12,500 hectares. It is spread over 37 mouzas of the State’s South and North 24 Parganas districts.
- Where are Sundarbans?
- What are mangroves?
- Flora and fauna in the regions.
- Recent cyclones in BoB region.
- East Kolkatte Wetlands.
Discuss the impact of cyclone amphan on Mangroves in India.
Sources: the Hindu.