Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

The water bodies in the capital city of India are heavily polluted and many have turned into dumping yards. The Delhi government’ environment department proposes to set up a wetland development authority – a body to look after the preservation and revival of the city’s wetlands.

Currently, the responsibility of preserving and restoring wetlands in the city lies with several agencies, including the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Public Works Department (PWD) and the municipal corporations.

Delhi environment minister Imran Hussain had in a meeting asked the department to come up with the proposal at the earliest. The environment and forest department is preparing a proposal, which will be introduced before the cabinet.

“The plan for setting up a dedicated authority has been on the cards for some time. A meeting was held on the matter and a proposal is in the works. The work is to be fast-tracked so that by summer, at least some are revived,” said a senior Delhi government official.

The revival of water bodies is necessary to recharge groundwater. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in a November 2018 order asked the government to expedite the setting up of the authority.

The move had come after the union environment ministry had in September 2018 notified the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 which stipulate setting up of a wetland authority in all states and union territories.

“Monitoring of wetlands was difficult due to multiplicity of agencies,” the official said.

“It is a welcome step. However, it must start with demarcating the wetland area, as most of them, including those around the Yamuna, have vanished or become polluted because of unchecked encroachment. Those in villages and illegal colonies, for lack of proper drainage system, have turned into dumpyards,” said Faiyaz A Khudsar, scientist in-charge of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park.

A wetland is a lifeline, as they help in maintaining the ecological flow of the river, recharge groundwater and aquifers as well as serve as habitat for organisms, including migratory birds.