Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a special scheme called ‘Amrit Dharohar’ for protecting vital wetlands which sustain aquatic biodiversity. The scheme aims to achieve sustainable ecosystem development with the help of local communities.
It falls under ‘Green Growth’, one of the seven priorities of the budget.
“Hon’ble Prime Minister has given a vision for ‘LiFE’, or Lifestyle for Environment, to spur a movement of environmentally conscious lifestyle,” said Sitharaman during her budget speech delivered in Parliament February 1, 2023.
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The 2023-24 budget has allocated Rs 3,079.40 crore to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, which is a 24 per cent increase from last year’s Rs 2,478 crore.
India currently has 75 Ramsar sites, which are wetlands of international importance that have been designated under the criteria of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
These wetlands have rare or unique biodiversity and play a huge role in protecting the ecological biodiversity of a region. “Local communities have always been at the forefront of conservation efforts,” Sitharaman added.
The government will promote their unique conservation values through Amrit Dharohar. This scheme will be implemented over the next three years to encourage optimal use of wetlands and enhance bio-diversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities and income generation for local communities, the minister said.
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“It is a very welcome decision. It was required since India now has the largest number of Ramsar sites in Asia,” Ritesh Kumar of Wetlands International South Asia told Down To Earth.
The current reading of the scheme says that it is going to be participatory, which is also welcome since the essence of Ramsar site management is wise use, Kumar added.
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