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World Wetlands Day 2021

A webinar on World Wetland Day was organized by Pushpa Gujral Science City. Around 200 students from different educational institutions of Punjab participated in the programme. On the occasion, Dr. Bitapi C Sinha, Senior professor from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and an interpretation expert, delivered a special talk on wetland conservation. During her talk, she said: “Wetlands are very important for our survival. Wetlands cover only 0.5% of the earth’s surface but are home to nearly 10 per cent of all known species. They hold and provide most of the freshwater by filtering pollutants from the ground naturally. Due to unsustainable practices, freshwater ecosystems are under threat. Therefore, immediate actions are required to be taken to protect and restore our freshwater ecosystems.” She emphasized on the role of society in wetland conservation. Dr. Neelima Jerath, Director General, Science City, said wetlands were important habitats for biodiversity, especially the migratory birds and hence, it is essential to see that these are well protected. Recalling her association with work on wetlands of Punjab since 1988, she said: “The state government had recognized the importance of this ecosystem in the economy and ecology of the state way back in 1987 when work on Harike Wetland was initiated. Harike was recognized as a Ramsar site in 1990, followed by Ropar and Kanjli wetlands in 2000. Now we have six wetlands in Punjab declared as Ramsar sites, which includes Keshopur, Nangal and Beas also and are being managed by the State Wetland Authority in the Department of Forests & Wildlife”. She informed that the authority was taking appropriate precautionary measures in view of the recent bird flu. Dr. Rajesh Grover, Director, Science City, said wetlands have been drained and transformed by anthropogenic activities like unplanned urban and agricultural development, industrial growth, construction activities, resource extraction, etc. causing substantial long-term ecological loss. He emphasized that it was easier to protect wetlands now than to restore or recreate “later” which may be too late.