NE home to 5% of country's wetlands

SHILLONG: The bio-diversity rich northeast accounts for almost 5 per cent of the wetlands in the country, the Deepor Beel in Assam, Rudra Sagar in Tripura and Loktak Lake in Manipur being the major wetland-areas in the region.

Spelling out these data on the occasion of World Wetland Day at the North Eastern Space Application Centre ( NESAC) at Barapani today, scientists informed that total wetland area in the region is estimated at 1.06 million hectare, which is around 4.17 per cent of the total geographical area of the northeast. On this occasion, the first ever atlas of the wetlands of the region was also released.

"There are 7,731 wetlands in the NE states. In addition to that, 11,736 very small wetlands also exist in the region. Major wetland types are rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, waterlogged areas, ox-bow lakes, high altitude lakes and reservoirs," informed TS Singh, a scientist from Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad.

According to available data derived from the mapping of wetlands in the region, Arunachal Pradesh has 434 wetlands amounting to 2 per cent of the state's total geographical area; Nagaland has 267 small wetlands including Doyang Lake, Chthe Reservoir, Shilloi Lake and parts of Tizu River; Manipur, which harbours the unique fresh-water Loktak Lake has 167 wetlands that account for about 2.85 per cent of the state's geographical area; Mizoram has 88 wetlands; Tripura has 432 wetlands including Rudra Sagar, Gomti Reservoir (Dumbur Lake), Sipahijala Reservoir, Trishna, Sattar Mia's Haor, Batapura Lake and College Tilla Lake; Meghalaya has 135 wetlands including Barapani (Umiam), the major wetland area in the state.

"In Assam, 5,097 major wetlands have been mapped and 6,081 small wetlands have also been identified. Total wetland area in the state is estimated at 7,64,372 hectare, which is around 9.74 per cent of the geographical area of the state," said a scientist adding that Assam can be divided into three distinct physical units, Brahmaputra Valley in the north, Barak Valley in the south and hilly region in Mikir and Cachar areas.

"Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems besides being a rich repository of bio-diversity, and are known to play a significant role in carbon sequestration. Maintenance of the wetlands is significant in view of accelerating pressure on the very existence of these resources due to developmental activities and population pressure," a bulletin issued on the occasion emphasized.