Preserving the Biodiversity of the Bhoj Wetland

The Bhoj wetland, located to the west of Bhopal, is a vital man-made waterbody consisting of the Bhojtal and the Lower Lake. Listed under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of national importance, the Bhoj wetland is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including 179 species of birds, 43 species of fishes, over a dozen species of reptiles and amphibians, 206 species of phytoplankton and 98 species of insects. Despite facing threats from urbanization, the Bhoj wetland continues to be a thriving ecosystem and a popular destination for bird-watching.

History and Development

  • The Bhoj wetland was first conceived by the visionary king Paramara Raja Bhoj in 1005-1055 CE. He built the lake by raising an earthen dam across the Kolans, and the Lower Lake was built much later in 1794 by Chhote Khan, a minister to Nawab Hayath Mohammad Khan.
  • More recently, the Bhadbhada dam was built on the southeast corner of Bhojtal in 1965. Of the 26 Ramsar sites in India, the Bhoj wetland is one of the most accessible, with a road going around the twin lakes.

Threats to the Bhoj Wetland

  • The Bhoj wetland faces various threats from urbanization and human settlements on all sides. In recent years, there have been plans to introduce cruise vessels in the area, which could have a detrimental impact on the ecosystem.
  • Small cruise vessels with passengers can pollute water bodies with sewage, wastewater and other contaminants. Additionally, a mid-sized cruise vessel can consume 150 tonnes of fuel each day and dump toxic waste in the water. Such actions would be a violation of state laws and environmental protection acts.

Synopsis

Despite the threats it faces, the Bhoj wetland remains a vital and thriving ecosystem. It is a sanctuary for a diverse range of flora and fauna and a popular destination for bird-watching. The state government must take steps to protect the wetland and prevent actions that would harm the ecosystem, such as the introduction of cruise vessels.

Written by IAS POINT

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