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Vembanad and Ashtamudi Lake

Facts for Prelims

Source: DTE


Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a penalty of Rs 10 crore on the Kerala government for failing to protect the Vembanad and Ashtamudi lakes (Ramsar list of wetlands)


Issues: The wetlands had become polluted drains due to the dumping of pharmaceutical waste, plastic waste, household waste, and slaughterhouse waste.

The penalty levied per the ‘polluter pays principle’ should be deposited in a ring-fenced account, which should be utilized under the chief secretary’s authority for conservation or restoration measures.

Feature Vembanad Lake Ashtamudi Lake
Size The largest lake in Kerala, the longest in India Second largest after the Vembanad estuary system
Names Punnamada Lake (in Kuttanad), Kochi Lake Ashtamudi Kayal, Ashtamudi means ‘eight braids’ (8 branches) in the local Malayalam language
Significance Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Ramsar Site Houseboat and backwater resorts, Ramsar Site
Ramsar Site Yes, second-largest Ramsar site in India after Sundarbans Yes
Bird Sanctuary Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary on the east coast  
Unique Feature The lake is situated at sea level and is separated from the Laccadive Sea by a narrow barrier island Unique wetland ecosystem, Gateway to Kerala Backwaters
Issues Vembanad lake’s water retention capacity had decreased by 85% in the last 120 years due to huge encroachment and devastation of its ecology It has significant amounts of waste accumulation