February 1, 2023 11:00 am


Kerala's Vembanad Lake : A Wetland in Distress

Famous Vembanad Lake in Kerala has started to shrink nearly 20 years after it received a Ramsar tag.

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Kerala’s famous Vembanad lake is facing a worst crisis. Ramsar site status lake and second largest in the country after Sundarbans, Vembanad is shrinking fast. Encroachments, rampant constructions and pollution are three major reason contributing to the deteriorating lake health.

Any wetland site is designated as a Ramsar site if it is of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, 1971. The designation is given to a wetland site that has unique, rare and distinctive biodiversity. Vembanad is one such Ramsar site in the country. It got the Ramsar site status twenty years ago.

What is the issue?

  • The longest lake and the second largest Ramsar site in India, the Vembanad Lake is undergoing fast shrinking. 
  • With an area of 2000 square kilometers and a length of around 96 kilometers, the lake is a source of livelihood to the farmers and fisherfolk community of Kerala.
  • The conflict between the agriculture and farming has also been a highlight where both the sectors are unable to work together
  • A well-designed tourist spot, heavy encroachments and construction of resorts are damaging the lake ecosystem.
  • Inefficient waste disposal methods by tourists are polluting the lake and degrading its health. 
  • The stretches of Alappuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam that encircle the lake are also getting choked by the heavy sewage pollution.
  • The recurring floods in the area is also one of the major reasons for the lake degradation. To prevent the silt deposition due to flooding bunds were constructed around the lake but unfortunately it has failed to serve the purpose.

Negligence by the state government

  • The conservationists in Kerala are holding the state government responsible for not taking the adequate measures for safeguarding the Vembanad Lake. 
  • Since the lake has been designated as a Ramsar site in 2002, no adequate measures have been taken by the state government to preserve the rich biodiversity of the area.
  • EJ James, a member of the National Committee on Wetlands has also asserted that the state government’s measures were only on papers and not implemented at the ground level. 

Way Forward

The Kerala government should come up with some concrete steps to revive this wetland of international importance to its old glory and should stress on committed efforts to save the wetland ecosystem. Appropriate laws should be enforced to restrict the construction around the lake. A cooperation between both the government and local community is also required to sustainably manage Vembanad ecosystem.

The Indian Affairs Staff
The Indian Affairs Staff

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