Creating an Interactive Inventory of Wetlands in Delhi

A Wetland is a generic term used for a piece of land that is wet for a considerable period of time (at least for one season), but is not necessarily permanently wet. Different kinds of wetlands include ponds, lakes, rivers etc. Wetlands may also be defined as areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year.

Wetlands are known as kidneys of the ecosystem and provide useful ecosystem services at the local, regional and global scales. The kidney metaphor highlights the ability of wetlands to filter water by absorbing pollutants and sediments, especially during the process of ground water recharge. They also provide the very useful ecosystem service of checking floods and acting as a reservoir for aquatic biodiversity.

Destruction and/or disappearance of wetlands could have devastating effects, especially in densely populated urban centres like Delhi, Chennai, etc.  The Chennai floods of 2015 may have been caused by a freak weather event (and many such events may have taken place earlier as well), but the reason why Chennai could not show resilience and became inundated is the gradual, though steady, disappearance of wetlands in Chennai city. A study published by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and popularized through The Hindu highlighted how Chennai paid the price for the loss of its wetlands.

The city of Delhi is known to have over 1,000 wetlands at the turn of the last century. The Delhi Climate Action Plan, published in 2009, enlisted 621 wetlands to have existed in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, and stated that many of these have been dried and/or are beyond recovery (Mehta, 2009). It is therefore important to understand how many wetlands we have left, and to prevent the existing wetlands from being degraded further. With this as the backdrop, this project aims to create an interactive, online database of all existing wetlands in the NCT of Delhi and urge citizen action for their protection and conservation.

Reference:

Mehta, R., 2009. Climate change: Agenda for Delhi 2009-2012. Chief Secretary’s office. Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.

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