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Save Rudrasagar Lake – The Lone Ramsar Site of International Importance in Tripura
Rudrasagar lake falls under Sonmura subdivision of West Tripura district in Melaghar block and about 55 km from Tripura state capital. Geographically the lake lies between 23029′ N and 900 01′ E. It is under the jurisdiction of Fisheries Department, Tourism Department and Agriculture/Production/Soil Conservation Department which is managed by Fisheries Department, Government of Tripura. Right of the lake.
According to the Annual Report (2005-2006) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests of India,
Rudrasagar Lake is listed in the list of wetlands recognized under the National Wetland Conservation Program and has been mentioned in the list of Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention (India). Rudrasagar Lake (Ramsar Site No. 1572.) Recognized as a Ramsar Site on 08/11/05 at the ‘CoP’ 09 (Council of the Parties) meeting held in Uganda from 8-15 November 2005. The Secretary-General, Convention on Wetlands, has declared the Rudrasagar Lake a Ramsar site and included it in the list of Wetlands of International Importance. This certificate has been notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India on 29-02-2007.
Hydromorphologically, Rudrasagar Lake is a natural alluvial reservoir, drained by three perennial streams, Nochera, Durlavanarayan Chera and Kematli Chera. After disposal of silt from the receiving stream, clean water is released into Gomti River through a connecting channel called Kachigang. The lake has been formed due to accumulation of silt. No rock formations are found below 50 m silt (clay loam) and sandy below. The surrounding hills are soft alluvial in nature. Due to the high rainfall (2500 mm) and downstream topography, the wetland is regularly flooded 4-5 times annually, which helps in groundwater recharge. The lake water is fresh with negligible pollution and its depth ranges from 2 m to 9 m. Fluctuation in water level EL varies from 9m to 16m. The downstream area of the lake is 750 hectares with temperatures ranging from 370C to 50C and rainfall between 15 May and 15 October. Lands are owned by the state to which perennial water fields are leased. Subsistence fisher cooperatives and paddy cultivation are carried out on the surrounding seasonal water bodies.
The lake is abundant in commercially important freshwater fishes such as Botia spp, Notopterus Chitala, Mystus spp., Ompok pabda, Labeo bata, Mystus aor, Wallago attu, Heterophneutes fossilis and freshwater scampi, with an annual production of 26 MT, and an idea. Habitat of the IUCN Redlisted Three-striped Roof Turtle Kachuga dhongka. Apart from these species, other important fish species are: Puntius sophore, Asomus danrica, Chanda ranga, Nandas nandas, Anabus testudaneus, Colissa fasciatus, Notopterus notopterus, Sirinus reba, Mastasembellus pancalus, Channa punctata, Macrogmanthus, Macroganthus, Macrogmanthus, Macrognathus. Labeo Rohita, Mystus Gulio, Ompak Paba, Channa Marulius etc.
Currently the lake is facing several anthropogenic pressures which are threatening the ecological balance of the lake. These problems are-
Eco-zoning of lake shorelines: In violation of IUCN conservation guidelines, the coastline was disturbed due to several malpractices such as dumping of anthropogenic waste, solid waste and construction materials on the shore.
Eutrophication: The pond showed uncontrolled growth of foreign invasive species like water hyacinth, excessive algae causing loss of aquatic biodiversity. Cultural eutrophication has been shown to be a major factor in the management of poor water quality in the Rudrasagar Lake.
Soil erosion and sedimentation in ponds: Large scale soil erosion in lake catchment area is one of the major problems leading to decrease in lake area and lake depth. Due to such reason the area of Rudrasagar lake has reduced considerably from 1000 hectares. Before 1950 it was more or less 100. Currently. Increasing erosion is caused by the expansion of human habitations and agricultural areas, deforestation, floods, immersion of idols through religious activities and other land disturbances that occur in the drainage basin of the lake.
Agricultural activities: Due to reduction of water area, the society used to use the area near the lake to the members for agriculture. A large number of farmers use pesticides and chemical fertilizers in their paddy cultivation which is harmful to pond organisms.
Deforestation, filling, drainage and degradation of wetlands: Clearing and removal of native vegetation due to rapid unplanned development activities in lake areas not only reduces native plant biodiversity, but also animal biodiversity through loss of habitat for breeding, nesting and feeding and increased competition for existing habitat. Areas..
Lack of awareness, scientific knowledge and neglect of protection by law: Landowners in surrounding areas are not aware of biodiversity conservation issues on their land. Due to the lack of scientific knowledge and the complexity of ecosystems, it is often difficult to predict what effect specific activities will have on a particular species or ecosystem, or what factors are contributing to the decline of individual species. Every year from November to April, people from different parts of the state as well as outside come to this place for sightseeing. But it is surprising to see the solid waste thrown by the picnic parties on the shores of the lake as well as in the water of the lake itself. Not a single board or banner has been hung in this area by the concerned authority to protect the lake and avoid pollution due to these anthropogenic activities. Wetlands also do not have a fixed wetland authority.
There is a need for strong public awareness to protect these wetlands from harmful anthropogenic activities. Rudrasagar lake also has scope for eco-tourism development. From the point of view of tourism, the lake is famous as the most beautiful place in the state for the water palace ‘Neermahal’ built by the then Raja Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur of Tripura as a summer resort in 1935-1938. But the development of tourism has become unplanned and spontaneous. The optimality of current resource utilization in the light of its sustainability needs to be worked out through further environmental assessments and a definitive regulatory framework should be created to restore the ecological balance of the ecosystem.
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