A) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

1. Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) (PIB)

  • Context: Prime Minister of India will launch Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY SEHAT to extend coverage to all the residents of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir on 26th December 2020.
  • The scheme will ensure Universal Health Coverage and focus on providing financial risk protection and ensuring quality and affordable essential health services to all individuals and communities.
  • Universal Health Coverage (UHC) includes the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care and enables everyone to access the services, protecting people from the financial consequences of paying for health services out of their own pockets and reducing the risk that people will be pushed to poverty.
  • The Ayushman Bharat program, with its two pillars – Health and Wellness Centres and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna – is envisaged to achieve UHC.


  • There are two main pillars of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY):
  • Ayushman Bharat (AB) Scheme, where 1.5 lakh sub-centres and primary health centres are being converted into health and wellness centres; and
  • The National Health Protection Mission (NHPM), which aims to provide health cover of ₹5 lakh per family, per annum, reaching out to 500 million people.

Ayushman Bharat

  • Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme having central sector component under Ayushman Bharat Mission anchored in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
  • It aims to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary care systems.
  • It covers both prevention and health promotion.
  • Establishment of ‘Health and wellness Centres’ is a major health initiative under this Scheme.

Health and Wellness Centre

  • The National Health Policy, 2017 says the Health and Wellness Centres are the foundation of India’s health system.
  • Under the scheme, around 1,50,000 SHC/ PHC/ UPHCs will be upgraded into wellness clinics that will provide 12 sets of services.
  • These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services.
  • The SHC- AB-HWCs, will be manned by Community Health officer (CHO).
  • They can be a BSc or Ayurveda Practitioner trained in 6 months Certificate Programme in Community Health.
  • Changes have been made to the nursing curriculum such that for 2020, the nursing graduates can man our HWCs.

National Health Protection Scheme

  • It aims to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries).
  • It will provide coverage upto 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
  • The beneficiaries will be selected on the basis of Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database.
  • In rural areas, households living in one room kuccha homes, those with no adult members, those headed by women, those belonging to SC/ST, the homeless and landless are some of the beneficiaries.
  • In the cities, beneficiaries include rag pickers, street vendors, domestic help, sanitation workers, shop workers and so on.
  • NHPM will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes –Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).
  • There will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme.
  • The benefit cover will also include pre and post-hospitalisation expenses.
  • All pre-existing conditions will be covered from day one of the policy.
  • A defined transport allowance per hospitalization will also be paid to the beneficiary.
  • Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public/private empanelled hospitals across the country.
  • It will be an entitlement-based scheme with entitlement decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database.
  • State Governments (at their own cost) will be allowed to expand AB-NHPM both horizontally and vertically.
  • It is proposed to set up Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Council (AB-NHPMC) at apex level Chaired by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister.
  • The Scheme will cover almost all secondary and many tertiary hospitalizations (except a negative list).
  • It is proposed to have an Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Governing Board (AB-NHPMGB) which will be jointly chaired by Secretary (HFW) and Member (Health), NITI Aayog.

Cancer treatment

  • If all goes as planned, cancer treatments will soon be covered under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), which is the Central Government’s health insurance scheme.
  • Cancer is the second-most common disease in India.
  • Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in India, followed by breast cancer and oral cancers.

What is the tele consultation module?

  • A tele consultation module, which is a National Medical College Network of 50 colleges, has been created.
  • Each of these will be given a catchment area of AB-HWCs to mentor and give tele-consultation services.

Do you know?

  • The health workforce in India comprises broadly eight categories, namely: doctors (allopathic, alternative medicine); nursing and midwifery professionals; public health professionals (medical, non-medical); pharmacists; dentists; paramedical workers (allied health professionals); grass-root workers (frontline workers); and support staff.
  • India has the highest number of wasted (a low weight-for-height ratio) children in the world.
  • India has the second highest number of obese children in the world after China.
  • Rising obesity is posing a high risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers (clubbed together as non-communicable diseases, or NCDs).
  • Indians have higher levels of body fat and lower levels of lean muscle when compared to many other populations.
  • Therefore, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes operates even below global thresholds for defining overweight and obesity.

National Quality Assurance Awards

  • National Quality Assurance Standards have been developed keeping in mind the specific requirements for public health facilities as well global best practices.
  • NQAS are currently available for District Hospitals, CHCs, PHCs and Urban PHCs.

The public health-care infrastructure in rural areas:


  • It is the most peripheral and first contact point between the primary health-care system and the community.
  • It is established in a plain area with a population of 5000 people and in hilly/difficult to reach/tribal areas with a population of 3000.
  • Each SC is required to be staffed by at least one auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM)/female health worker and one male health worker.

Primary health centers

  • A primary health center (PHC) is established in a plain area with a population of 30 000 people and in hilly/difficult to reach/tribal areas with a population of 20 000.
  • It is the first contact point between the village community and the medical officer.
  • The PHCs are established and maintained by the State Governments under the Minimum Needs Program (MNP)/Basic Minimum Services (BMS) Program.
  • The activities of PHCs involve health-care promotion and curative services.

Community health centers

  • Community health centers (CHCs) are established and maintained by the State Government under the MNP/BMS program in a plain area with a population of 1,20,000 people and in hilly/difficult to reach/tribal areas with a population of 80,000.
  • A CHC is required to be staffed by four medical specialists, that is, surgeon, physician, pediatrician and gynecologist/obstetrician.
  • It serves as a referral center for PHCs within the block.

First referral units

  • An existing facility (district hospital, sub-divisional hospital, CHC) can be declared a fully operational first referral unit (FRU).
  • There are three critical determinants of a facility being declared as a FRU:
  • (i) emergency obstetric (the branch of medicine and surgery
    concerned with childbirth) care including surgical interventions
    such as caesarean sections;
  • (ii) care for small and sick newborns; and
  • (iii) blood storage facility on a 24-h basis.

2. Ministry of AYUSH: Year-end Review-2020 (PIB)

Inclusion of Sowa-Rigpa into AYUSH systems

  • The Government has suitably amended the Allocation of Business Rules and inter-alia included the business of formulation of policy for development and propagation of Sowa-Rigpa under the ambit of Ministry of AYUSH.

Sowa-Rigpa (Science of healing)

  • “Sowa-Rigpa” commonly known as Tibetan system of medicine is one of the oldest, living and well documented medical tradition of the world.
  • It has been originated from Tibet and popularly practice in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia and Russia.
  • The majority of theory and practice of Sowa-Rigpa is similar to “Ayurveda”.
  • The first Ayurvedic influence came to Tibet during 3rd century AD but it became popular only after 7th centuries with the approach of Buddhism to Tibet.
  • rGyud-bZhi (four tantra) the fundamental text book of this medicine was composed by Yuthog Yonten Gonpo who is believed to be the father of Sowa Rigpa.
  • rGyud-bZhi which is based on indigenous medicine of Tibet enriched with Ayurveda, Chinese and Greek Medicine.
  • In India, this system is widely practice in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling (West Bengal), Dharamsala, Lahaul and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh) and Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir.


  • Pradhan Mantri VRIKSHAYUSH YOJANA was announced for the cultivation and post-harvest management of medicinal plants with the budget of Rs.4000 crore covering 10 lac hectares.
  • This will also cover cultivation of medicinal plants in an area of 800 acres along the banks of river Ganga.


  • In pursuance to the National Health Policy 2017 and e-governance initiative of Government of India, Ministry of AYUSH is in process of creating an IT backbone in the form of AYUSH GRID for the entire AYUSH Sector.
  • Digitization of entire AYUSH Sector will lead to transformation of AYUSH Sector in fields of health care delivery at all levels, research, education, various health programmes, drug regulations, etc.


  • Yogasana recognised as a competitive sport in India.

Inclusion of AYUSH practitioners in WHO Doctors population ratio

  • AYUSH registered medical practitioners have been included in registered medical practitioners data thus improving WHO Doctors Population Ratio.

3. FASTag: e-toll for the road (PIB)

  • Context: Ministry of Road Transport & Highways announced that FASTag is being made mandatory for all vehicles in the country from 1stof January, 2021.


  • As per Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, the FASTag had been made mandatory for:
  • registration of new four wheeled Vehicles and is being supplied by the Vehicle Manuracturer or their dealers.
  • renewal of fitness certificate for the Transport Vehicles.
  • National Permit Vehicles
  • getting a new 3rd Party Insurance (w.e.f. 1 April 2021)
  • This notification would be a major step for ensuring that the payment of fees be 100% at Toll Plazas through the Electronic Means only and that the vehicles pass seamlessly through the Fee Plazas. There would be no waiting time at the Plazas and would save fuel.

What is FASTag

  • National Highways Authority of India has rolled out program for Electronic Toll Collection on Toll Plazas on National Highways to be called FASTag.
  • FASTag is a reloadable tag which enables automatic deduction of toll charges and lets you pass through the toll plaza without stopping for the cash transaction.
  • FASTag is linked to a prepaid account from which the applicable toll amount is deducted.


  • The tag employs Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) technology and is affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen after the tag account is active.
  • RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification devices for identification and tracking purposes.
  • Increasingly, RFID tagging is used in supply chain management as an alternative to bar code technology.
  • Although more expensive to use than the bar code stickers, RFID tags don’t get dirty or fall off or require an unobstructed line-of-sight between the tag and the reader.
  • FASTag has a validity of 5 years.
  • From December 15, 2019, FASTag, a prepaid rechargeable tag for toll payments, on national highways will become mandatory for all vehicles.
  • The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has issued a Gazette Notification according to which all four wheel motor vehicles sold on or after 1st December 2017 will have FASTags fitted on them by the manufacturer of the vehicle or its authorized dealer, as the case may be.
  • In case of vehicles that are sold as drive away chassis without wind screen, FASTag will have to be fitted by the vehicle owner before it is registered.
  • FASTag is applicable for all categories, kinds, makes and types of vehicles.

Who is implementing this program?

  • Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) (a company incorporated by National Highways Authority of India) and National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) are implementing this program.
  • Vehicle without valid FASTag entering FASTag lane will be charged double the applicable toll amount in cash.
  • Further, bank neutral FASTag “NHAI FASTag” have been launched for easy availability at petrol-pump and on e-commerce site Amazon.
  • NHAI FASTag is a ‘bank-neutral’ FASTag i.e. no bank is pre-assigned to the FASTag at the time of purchase by customer.

Other benefits are:

  • (a) Environmental benefit:
  • Reduced air pollution,
  • Reduced use of paper
  • (b) Social benefit:
  • Reduced toll payment hassles,
  • Analytics for better highway management,
  • The centralised system provides authentic and real-time data to government agencies for better analysis and policy formulation.
  • (c) Economic benefit:
  • Reduced effort in management at toll plaza,
  • Reduced effort in monitoring centrally
  • Plugging revenue leakages and reducing the cost of delays and fuel consumption, which is also likely to cut down the nation’s GDP loss.
  • Cuts the cost of managing toll plazas.

What lies ahead?

  • In October 2019, the IHMCL and GST Network signed a memorandum of understanding for integrating FASTag with the e-way Bill system.
  • The arrangement has been made for a more efficient ‘track-and-trace’ mechanism involving goods vehicles.
  • It will also check revenue leakage at toll plazas.
  • The integration, which will become mandatory across the country from April 2020, will help revenue authorities check whether goods vehicles are actually headed to the specified destination.
  • Suppliers and transporters will also be able to keep track of their vehicles through SMS alerts generated at each tag reader-enabled toll plaza.
  • The Central government also plans to enable the use of FASTag for a range of other facilities such as fuel payments and parking charges.

4. Swachhata Abhiyan App (PIB)

  • Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has launched a Mobile Application “Swachhata Abhiyan.”
  • In the absence of any authentic data base regarding the location of insanitary latrines, it has been decided to seek the help of NGOs, Social Organisations and general public for collection and compilation of the data.
  • The mobile application “Swachhata Abhiyan” has been developed for this purpose.
  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013” mandates survey of insanitary latrines, their demolition and construction of sanitary latrines in their place.
  • Most of the insanitary latrines have been converted into sanitary latrines under the Swachh Bharat Mission implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Department of drinking water and Sanitation in urban and rural areas respectively.


Swachh Bharat Mission

  • The Indian government launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014.
  • The mission covers all rural and urban areas.
  • The urban component of the mission will be implemented by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs and the rural component by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)

  • The Government of India has launched “Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)” on 2nd October, 2014 with the following objectives:
  • (i) Eliminate open defecation,
  • (ii) Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets,
  • (iii) Eradication of manual scavenging,
  • (iv) 100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste,
  • (v) To bring about a behavioral change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices,
  • (vi) Generate awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health,
  • (vii) Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems,
  • (viii) To create enabling environment for private sector participation in Capital Expenditure and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.
  • The Mission has following components:
  • (i) Construction of Household Toilets,
  • (ii) Community and Public Toilets,
  • (iii) Solid Waste Management,
  • (iv) Information, Education & Communication (IEC) and Public Awareness,
  • (v) Capacity Building and Administrative & Office Expenses (A&OE).
  • It is being implemented by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs.
  • The funding pattern between the Central Government and the State Government/Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) is 75%:25% (90%:10% for North Eastern and special category states).
  • The gap in financing of the aforesaid components could be met by the beneficiary contribution, private funding, funds with private companies under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Swachh Bharat Kosh of the Ministry of Finance.
  • The mission aims to cover 1.04 crore households, provide 2.5 lakh community toilets, 2.6 lakh public toilets, and a solid waste management facility in each town.
  • Under the programme, community toilets will be built in residential areas where it is difficult to construct individual household toilets.
  • Public toilets will also be constructed in designated locations such as tourist places, markets, bus stations, railway stations, etc.
  • The programme will be implemented over a five-year period in about 4,401 towns.

Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin)

  • The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan has been restructured into the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin).
  • The mission aims to make India an open defecation free country in Five Years.
  • It seeks to improve the levels of cleanliness in rural areas through Solid and Liquid Waste Management activities and making Gram Panchayats Open Defecation Free (ODF), clean and sanitised.
  • Incentive as provided under the Mission for the construction of Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) shall be available for all Below Poverty Line (BPL) Households and Above Poverty Line (APL) households restricted to SCs/STs, small and marginal farmers, landless labourers with homestead, physically handicapped and women headed households.
  • The Incentive amount provided under SBM(G) to Below Poverty Line (BPL) /identified APLs households shall be up to Rs.12,000 for construction of one unit of IHHL and provide for water availability, including for storing for hand-washing and cleaning of the toilet.
  • Central Share of this Incentive for IHHLs shall be Rs.9,000/- (75%) from Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin). The State share will be Rs.3,000/-(25%).
  • For North Eastern State, and Special category States, the Central share will be Rs. 10,800/- and the State share Rs.1,200/- (90%:10%).
  • Funding for these new initiatives will be through the following:
  • Budgetary allocations;
  • Contributions to the Swachh Bharat Kosh;
  • Through commitments under Corporate Social responsibility (CSR);
  • Funding assistance from multilateral sources.

Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan

  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development has launched Swachh Vidyalaya Programme under Swachh Bharat Mission with an objective to provide separate toilets for boys and girls in all government schools.

Rashtriya Swachhata Kosh

  • The Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK) has been set up to facilitate and channelize individual philanthropic contributions and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to achieve the objective of Clean India (Swachh Bharat) by the year 2019.
  • The Kosh will be used to achieve the objective of improving cleanliness levels in rural and urban areas, including in schools.
  • To incentivise contributions from individuals and corporate, modalities are being considered to provide tax rebates where it is possible.
  • Transfer of the responsibility of construction of all School toilets to the Department of School Education and Literacy and of Anganwadi toilets to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • Swachh Bharat is proposed to be achieved through coverage of all rural households with Individual Household Latrines (IHHLs), cluster toilets, community toilets (including through PPP mode), construction of school and anganwadi toilets and Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) activities in all Gram Panchayats.

Swachhta Pakhwada Campaign

  • It is an environment awareness campaign under Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Under the campaign a theme wise “Swachh Bharat Fortnight” is being organised by different Ministries.
  • It is a voluntary exercise and objective is to create awareness, target programmes, invite pledges, spending of CSR etc.
  • It has also been followed by private institutions and corporate groups.

Swachh Iconic Places

  • The Swachh Iconic Places is an initiative under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • It is a special clean-up initiative focused on select iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country.
  • The initiative is being coordinated by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in association with the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the concerned State governments.
  • Under Phase 1 of this initiative, the following iconic places are being covered for an intensive clean up:
  • Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Maharashtra
  • Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh
  • Tirupati Temple, Andhra Pradesh
  • Golden Temple, Punjab
  • Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Rajasthan
  • Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
  • Kamakhya Temple, Assam
  • Jagannath Puri, Odisha
  • The Phase II of Swachh Iconic Places initiative covers the following:
  • Gangotri
  • Yamunotri
  • Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain
  • Char Minar, Hyderabad
  • Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assissi, Goa
  • Adi Shankaracharya’s abode Kaladi in Ernakulam
  • Gomateshwar in Shravanbelgola
  • Baijnath Dham, Devghar
  • Gaya Tirth in Bihar
  • Somnath temple in Gujarat
  • The Phase III of Swachh Iconic Places initiative covers the following:
  • Raghavendra Swamy Temple (Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh)
  • Hazardwari Palace (Murshidabad, West Bengal)
  • Brahma Sarovar Temple (Kurukshetra, Haryana)
  • VidurKuti (Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh)
  • Mana village (Chamoli, Uttarakhand)
  • Pangong Lake (Leh-Ladakh, J&K)
  • Nagvasuki Temple (Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh)
  • ImaKeithal/market (Imphal, Manipur)
  • Sabarimala Temple (Kerala)
  • Kanvashram (Uttarakhand)

National Launch Of 10 Year Rural Sanitation Strategy (2019-2029)

  • The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti, GoI launched the 10 Year Rural Sanitation Strategy (2019-2029), which focus on sustaining the sanitation behavior change that has been achieved under the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G), ensuring that no one is left behind, and increasing access to solid and liquid waste management.

‘Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat’ Programme

  • It is an initiative of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Ministry of Human Resource Development, to prepare a physical Health and Fitness Profile Card for more than 12 lakhs of Kendriya Vidyalaya students.
  • Making students, teachers and parents aware about the importance of good health and fitness and encouraging 60 minutes of play each day are among the objectives of the programme.
  • Swasth Bachche, Swasth Bharat programme also intends to imbibe values of Olympics and Paralympics amongst students.

B) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

5. Ladakh’s Tso Kar Wetland Complex now a Wetland of International Importance (PIB)

  • Context: India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site, which is a second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.


  • The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies, Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, India.
  • It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.
  • The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway. The site is also one of the most important breeding areas of the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) many other species in India.

Black-necked cranes

  • Black-necked cranes breed exclusively in alpine meadows, at altitudes of 2,600 to 4,900 m, and as a protection from predators nest in marshes where the water is about 30 cm deep.
  • In winter, they migrate to river valleys at lower altitudes, preferably to areas near crop fields.
  • These birds are endemic to the Tibetan Plateau, and are threatened by human- and climate-change-induced habitat loss, and of late also by free-ranging dogs in their breeding areas and food shortage in wintering areas.
  • As a result, they are currently listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.

Ramsar Convention

  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is a treaty for conservation and sustainable use of such sites.
  • Ramsar Convention is formally known as Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
  • It was signed on 2 February 1971 at the Iranian city of Ramsar (located on the shores of the Caspian Sea).
  • That date is celebrated as World Wetland Day now.
  • The Ramsar Convention is one of the oldest inter-governmental accord signed by members countries to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance.
  • The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.
  • Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under strict guidelines of the convention.
  • The Ramsar Convention has been ratified by most of the world’s nations, including the U.S., China and India, and has designated more than 2,300 sites of international importance.
  • The maximum number of Ramsar sites are in UK.
  • The Largest area covered by Ramsar Sites is in Canada.
  • Ramsar secretariat is hosted by IUCN World Conservation Union in Gland, Switzerland.
  • This treaty is not a legal binding treaty and is not a part of UN & UNESCO conventions.
  • Ramsar Convention is the only global environment treaty dealing with a particular ecosystem.
  • Once a country joins the Convention:
  • It has to designate at least one of its wetlands into the List of Wetlands of International Importance called “Ramsar List”. Once that is done, it can later designate more such wetlands.
  • The above designation has to be based upon criteria that take into account the ecology, botany, zoology, limnology (freshwater science) or Hydrology. Thus, not every wetland becomes a Ramsar site but only those which have significant values related to these fields.
  • The world’s largest protected wetland is Llanos de Moxos, located in Bolivia.
  • Wetlands can store 50 times more carbon than rain forests, helping to keep the heat-trapping gas that contributes to climate change out of the atmosphere.
  • The Ramsar convention also makes the countries cooperate in matters of conservation of the trans-boundary wetlands.
  • The inclusion of a wetland in the List embodies the government’s commitment to take the steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained.
  • The Convention includes various measures to respond to threats to the ecological character of Sites.
  • The Congo Basin, one of the largest freshwater bodies in the world, is now home to the largest transboundary Ramsar Site.

Ramsar Convention and India

  • India became a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention in October 1981 and designated Chilika Lake (Odisha) and Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) as its first two Ramsar Sites.
  • There are currently 42 sites in India recognised as Ramsar wetland sites of international importance.
  • Kerala: Ashtamudi Wetland, Sasthamkotta Lake, Vembanad-Kol Wetland.
  • Odisha: Bhitarkanika Mangroves, Chilika Lake.
  • Madhya Pradesh: Bhoj Wetland.
  • Himachal Pradesh: Chandertal Wetland, Pong Dam Lake, Renuka Wetland.
  • Assam: Deepor Beel
  • West Bengal: East Calcutta Wetlands and Sunderbans (2019)
  • Punjab: Harike Lake, Ropar, Kanjli (Harike Wetland and the lake are manmade and were formed by constructing the head works across the Sutlej river, in 1953), Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve, Nangal
  • Jammu & Kashmir/ Ladakh: Hokera Wetland, Surinsar-Mansar Lakes, Tsomoriri, Wular Lake.
  • Rajasthan: Keoladeo National Park, Sambhar Lake (added to the Montreux Record)
  • Andhra Pradesh: Kolleru Lake.
  • Manipur: Loktak Lake. (added to the Montreux Record)
  • Gujarat: Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary.
  • Tamil Nadu: Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary.
  • Tripura: Rudrasagar Lake.
  • Uttar Pradesh: Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch), Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi, Sarsai Nawar and Sur Sarovar, also known as Keetham lake
  • Maharashtra: Nandur Madhameshwar, Lonar lake
  • Bihar: Kabartal
  • Uttarakhand: Asan Conservation Reserve in Dehradun.
  • Ramsar tag makes Indian Sunderbans the largest protected wetland in India (earlier it was Vembanad-Kol Wetland). The Sunderbans is already a World Heritage Site.
  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.
  • Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has prepared a four-pronged strategy for the restoration of wetlands which includes:
  • a baseline data,
  • wetland health cards,
  • enlisting wetland mitras and
  • preparing targeted Integrated Management Plans.

Montreux Record under the Ramsar Convention

  • It is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.
  • It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
  • The Montreux Record was established by Recommendations of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (1990).
  • Sites may be added to and removed from the Record only with the approval of the Contracting Parties in which they lie.
  • Currently, two wetlands of India are in Montreux record viz. Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan and Loktak Lake, Manipur.
  • Further, Chilka lake was placed in the record but was later removed from it due to the successful restoration of the site.

National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP)

  • This programme was launched in 1986 and has identified some 115 wetlands for urgent protection and conservation.
  • Under the Scheme, 100% assistance is provided for activities.

Global wetland outlook: state of the world’s wetlands and their services to people 2018

  • The Ramsar Convention recently issued its first-ever global report on the state of the world’s wetlands.
  • Between 1970 and 2015, inland and marine/coastal wetlands both declined by approximately 35%, where data are available, three times the rate of forest loss.
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