Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India as per the notification No. G.S.R 1203 (E) dated 26.09.2017 has issued the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017 for the integrated management of wetlands. As per the section 5(1) of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017, the Government of Kerala have constituted the State Wetland Authority Kerala (SWAK) vide GO (MS) No. 14/2017/Envt. dated 28.12.2017 with Chief Minister as the Chairman, Chief Secretary to Government as the Vice Chair Person and Director of Environment & Climate Change as the Member Secretary.
It is a statutory authority meant to function as State’s nodal agency to implement the task of policy development, regulatory frame works, integrated management, planning, implementation of action plans, capacity building, research, networking, communication, awareness, creation and raising of funds for wetland management.
Functions of the Authority
- Prepare a list of all wetlands of the State.
- Prepare a list of wetlands to be notified, taking into cognizance any existing list of wetlands prepared/notified under other relevant State Acts.
- Recommend identified wetlands, based on their Brief Documents, for regulation under these rules.
- Prepare a comprehensive digital inventory of all wetlands within a period of one year from the date of publication of these rules and upload the same on a dedicated web portal to be developed by the Central Government for the said purpose; the inventory to be updated every ten years.
- Develop a comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted within the notified wetlands and their zone of influence.
- Recommend additions, if any, to the list of prohibited activities for specific wetlands.
- Define strategies for conservation and wise use of wetlands within their jurisdiction; wise use being a principle for managing these ecosystems which incorporates sustainable uses (such as capture fisheries at subsistence level or harvest of aquatic plants) as being compatible with conservation, if ecosystem functions (such as water storage, groundwater recharge, flood buffering) and values (such as recreation and cultural) are maintained or enhanced;
- Review integrated management plan for each of the notified wetlands (including trans-boundary wetlands in coordination with Central Government), and within these plans consider continuation and support to traditional uses of wetlands which are harmonized with ecological character.
- In cases wherein lands within boundary of notified wetlands or wetlands complex have private tenancy rights, recommend mechanisms for maintenance of ecological character through promotional activities.
- Identify mechanisms for convergence of implementation of the management plan with the existing State level development plans and programmes.
- Ensure enforcement of these rules and other relevant Acts, rules and regulations and on half-yearly basis (June and December of each calendar year) inform the concerned State Government or Central Government on the status of such notified wetlands through a reporting mechanism.
- Coordinate implementation of integrated management plans based on wise use principle through various line departments and other concerned agencies.
- Function as nodal authority for all wetland specific authorities within the State.
- Issue necessary directions for conservation and sustainable management of wetlands to the respective implementing agencies.