Nature & India : News, Views and Discussions

India contests water crisis with 75 Amrit Sarovar in each district​

Water is the everyday lifeline for people across the globe. Around two-third of the Earth is covered with water, but only 2-3% of available water is usable. Some regions across the globe have sufficient clean water but certain other regions face a crisis.
Realizing the necessity of conserving water in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Mission Amrit Sarovar on 24th April 2022. Construction of more than 25,000 Amrit Sarovars have been completed within 6 months of the mission’s launch. A target has been set to build 50,000 Amrit Sarovars by 15th August 2023. As on 17th November 2022, about 90,531 sites have been identified for the construction of Amrit Sarovars, out of which work has started on 52,245 sites.

A ‘Whole of Government’ approach:​

With individual efforts, collaborative efforts are also needed. Shortage of water can impact people in various ways. Keeping the multi-dimension aspect of solving the issue, the government has adopted a ‘Whole of Government’ approach.

In this approach, the mission is achieved with the collaboration of various ministries. The Ministry of Rural Development along with the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, is working together with the technical collaboration of Bhaskaracharya National Institute of Space Applications and Geo-Informatics (BISAG-N).

BISAG-N has provided technologies like remote sensing and geospatial, which have helped ministries to identify sites accurately. Further, the soil and silt excavated from the sites are being used in other infrastructure projects in the district.

Public Participation at the heart of the mission:​

The mission is designed in such a way that participation of people can be ensured. The mission calls for ‘Jan Bhagidari’, involving people at all levels from site identification to the final celebration.

In every district, the foundation stone of Amrit Sarovar was laid by freedom fighters and their families or families of martyrs or Padma awardees or the oldest person of the gram panchayat. Commemorative plantation of trees such as neem, peepal, banyan etc. was also carried out through public participation. The Independence Day celebration on 15th August was organised at the Amrit Sarovar sites in the presence of villagers and public representatives.

Boost to Rural Economy:​

Construction of ponds will also strengthen the rural economy. The Amrit Sarovars can be seen as a multi-purpose site. The Sarovars can enable fish farming, cultivation of Fox Nut and can also facilitate higher production of food grains with adequate irrigation system.

An Amrit Sarovar portal has also been created to capture all the activities taking place in the mission :

India's proposal for enhance protection to Leith's softshell turtle adopted​

India's proposal for enhancing protection status to Leith's softshell turtle has been adopted at the ongoing world wildlife conference in Panama, the Union Environment Ministry said on Thursday.
The country also proposed to give a higher degree of protection to the red-crowned roofed turtle or 'Batagur Kachuga' and received wide support from other parties at the 19th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP 19) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) being held in Panama City from November 14 to 25.
The transfer of Leith's softshell turtle from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I would ensure that legal international trade in the species does not take place for commercial purposes, the ministry said in a statement.
"It would also ensure that international trade in captive-bred specimens only takes place from registered facilities and that higher and more proportionate penalties are provided for illegal trade of the species," it said.
Leith's softshell turtle is a large freshwater soft-shelled turtle which inhabits rivers and reservoirs. It is endemic to peninsular India.
The species has been subject to intensive exploitation over the past 30 years. It has been poached and illegally consumed within India. It has also been illegally traded abroad for meat and for its calipee.
The population of this turtle species is estimated to have declined by 90 per cent over the past 30 years and the species is now difficult to find. It is classified as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The species is listed on Schedule IV of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, which gives it protection from hunting and trade. However, poaching and illegal trade of protected turtle species is a major challenge in India with seizures of thousands of specimens reported every year.
Species level identification of the seized specimens is also a challenge. Tortoises and freshwater turtles are targeted for the international pet, meat and calipee trade, as well as for illegal domestic consumption in some areas.
The ministry also said that India's proposal for uplifting of Batagur Kachuga from Appendix II to Appendix I of CITES received overwhelming support and was recommended for adoption with consensus.
CITES lauded and recorded India's works in the area of conservation of tortoises and freshwater turtles as well as efforts made in combating wildlife crime and illegal trade of turtles in the country, it said in another statement.
"The resolution documents submitted by the CITES Secretariat on tortoises and freshwater turtles specifically mentioned the commendable result achieved by the country in operations such as those initiated by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau namely Operation Turtshield, which resulted in nabbing many criminals involved in poaching and illegal trade of freshwater turtles and substantial seizures made by the agencies in different parts of the country," the statement said.