We just observed the wetlands day, and that is now an occasion at global level to talk about the ailing health of our wetlands, and raise concern about their revival. On all such occasions, it is customary to underline the most known things about a topic, and then express concern in a perfunctory way. Hardly things change before and after observing such occasions. This has led to an opinion that observing these days, be it at global level or at country level, is all an exercise in optics, and doesn’t go beyond. But there is a contrary opinion to it. Such occasions keep the debate alive, and never let the focus go completely off the subject. It is the minimum requirement for any change. That means, such occasions are helpful in keeping things afloat. If looked at through this prism wetlands day has an importance that cannot be denied. At least experts and concerned officials get together and put light on the problem areas. It is because of these occasions that people are generally sensitised about the subject, and in the case of wetlands it is supremely important that people are educated about the importance of these natural bodies, and how they need to be protected.
Further, it is on these occasions that governments around the world announce some key decisions, or roll out some significant initiatives. On this wetlands day we saw an important announcement from the government of India that can go a long way in taking care of the wetlands in this region. The government announced to establish India’s first Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM). It would be annexed to the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai, an institution under the Ministry of Forest and Climate Change (MoF&CC), and would “address specific research needs and knowledge gaps” that will “aid in the application of integrated approaches for conservation, management and wise use of the wetlands”. Now this is an important announcement, and if things really move in the intended direction, it can yield good results. As J&K is host to many wetlands, we need to be focussed on all such initiatives, and derive maximum benefit from such institutions for saving our wetlands, that are right in a pathetic condition.