Churning still water: Round table for finalisation of draft framework legislation for the protection and conservation of waterbodies in South Asia

Surface water sources such as lakes, ponds and rivers are very important as they help in flood control, ground water  recharge and storm protection. They also secure water for drinking, agriculture and industrial purposes. They play an important role in mitigating and adapting to the climate change effects. Once, lakes and wetlands played a vital role in South Asia’s urban landscape, but rapid urbanisation in the region has led to massive encroachment and pollution of its waterbodies. However, all South Asian cities are facing a major water crisis and cities such as Colombo, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Lahore and Delhi are no exception. Across South Asia, water crises has multiplied with the decline in the surface area under lakes and ponds, even as groundwater levels have plummeted. Cities like Colombo and Dhaka always connected its activities with its waterbodies. As the South Asian countries shifted to piped water supply, people have slowly forgotten the value of wetlands. Today these waterbodies are a shame – encroached, full of sewage, garbage or just filled up and built over. The cities in the island nation forgot that they needed water. They forgot their lifeline. Everywhere, waterbodies and their catchments have been encroached upon or taken away for housing and other buildings – by the poor and the rich alike.

CSE has been researching on the state of waterbodies in India. The research findings have been published in Excreta Matters: The seventh State of Environment Report. It is clear from the report that there is no clear law for the protection of waterbodies and their catchments. CSE's research in South Asia also showed that there is no umbrella law for protection of waterbodies in South Asian countries. 

CSE has come up with a draft framework legislation that can be presented to different law  making authorities in the South Asian countries (including India) which has taken care of the loopholes of the existing laws and policies related to the protection and conservation of wetlands . CSE is organising a round table on December 17-18, 2013, where lawyers from different South Asian countries will be present to finalise the framework legislation. The legal framework is the starting point for a set of activities that will include recommendations to the central and state governments about appropriate institutional and technical measures for wetland protection. 

Date: 17-18 December, 2013

Venue: Centre for Science and Environment, 
India Habitat Centre– Fourth floor, 
Core 6 A, Lodhi Road, New Delhi


Contact: Sushmita Sengupta
Deputy Programme Manager