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Save Rudrasagar Lake – The Lone Ramsar Site of International Importance in Tripura

Save Rudrasagar Lake – The Lone Ramsar Site of International Importance in Tripura

The Rudrasagar Lake falls in the Melaghar Block under Sonamura Sub-Division in the West Tripura District and at a distance of about 55 km from the state capital of Tripura. Geographically the lake is situated in between 23029′ N and 900 01′ E. It is Under the Jurisdiction of Department of Fisheries, Department of Tourism, and Department of Agriculture/Horticulture/Soil Conservation where Department of Fisheries, Government of Tripura is the management authority of the lake.

According to the Annual Report (2005-2006) of Ministry of Environment and Forest Govt. of India,
Rudrasagar Lake is listed in the LIST OF WETLANDS IDENTIFIED UNDER NATIONAL WETLAND CONSERVATION PROGRAMME and was mentioned in THE LIST OF WETLANDS OF INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE UNDER RAMSAR CONVENTION (INDIA). Rudrasagar Lake (Ramsar site no. 1572.) was identified as Ramsar site on 08/11/05 at the ‘CoP’ 09 (Conference of Parties) meeting held at Uganda during 8-15 November, 2005. Secretary General, Convention on Wetlands, Ramsar site has declared and included Rudrasagar Lake as in the list of wetlands of International Importance. This certificate has been communicated by ministry of environment and forest, govt. of India on 29-02-2007.

Hydromorphologically, Rudrasagar Lake is a natural sedimentation reservoir, which receives flow from three perennial streams namely, Noacherra, Durlavnaraya cherra and Kemtali cherra. After settling the sediment from the received flow, clear water discharges into the river Gomati through a connective channel namely Kachigang. The lake bed has been formed by silt deposition. As such no rock formation is found with 50m is silt (Clay loam) and below formation is sandy. Surrounding hillocks are of soft sedimentary formation. Owing to high rainfall (2500mm) and downstream topography, the wetland is regularly flooded with 4-5 times annual peak, assisting in groundwater recharge. Lake water is fresh with insignificant pollution with a depth varies from 2 m to 9m. Fluctuation in water level varies from EL 9m to 16m.The downstream area of the lake is 750 ha with a temperature variation from 370C to 50C and rainfall during May 15 to October 15. Lands are owned by the state with perennial water areas leased out to the subsistent fishermen’s cooperative, and surrounding seasonal water bodies are cultivated for paddy.

The lake is abundant in commercially important freshwater fishes like Botia spp, Notopterus Chitala, Mystus spp., Ompok pabda, Labeo bata, Mystus aor, Wallago attu, Heterophneutes fossilis and freshwater scampi, with annual production of 26 metric-tons, and an ideal habitat for IUCN Redlisted Three-striped Roof Turtle Kachuga dhongka. Apart from these species other important fish species are: Puntius sophore, Esomus danrica, Chanda ranga, Nandus nandus, Anabus testudeneus, Colisa fasciatus, Notopterus notopterus, Cirrhinus reba, Mastacembelus pancalus, Channa punctata,, Macrognathus siamensis, Gudusia chapra, Cylonia spp, Labeo rohita, Mystus gulio, Ompak paba, Channa marulius etc.

Presently the lake is increasingly facing several anthropogenic pressures which are threatening the ecological balance of the lake. These problems are-

Eco-zoning of Lake Shoreline: Breaking the IUCN conservation guidelines, the shoreline was disturbed with number of malpractices such as anthropogenic dumped garbage, deposition of solid waste and construction materials along the shoreline etc.

Eutrophication: Uncontrolled growth of alien invasive species such as water hyacinth, excessive algae was observed in the lake which caused loss of aquatic biodiversity. Cultural Eutrophication which was observed to a great extent is considered to be the major parameter for poor water quality management in Rudrasagar Lake.

Soil erosion and Siltation in the lake: Major soil erosion in catchment area of the lake is one of the key problems to decrease the lake area and to decrease the depth of the lake also. For such reason and others, the area of Rudrasagar Lake has been decreased drastically from 1000 ha. Prior to 1950 to more or less 100 ha. at present. Siltation is occurring due to increased erosion as a result of expansion of human habitat and agricultural areas, deforestation, flood, immersion of idols by the religious activity and such other land disturbances taking place in the drainage basin of the lake.

Agricultural activity: As the water area has been decreased, the society used to use out the adjacent area of the lake to the members for agriculture purpose. Good numbers of farmer use pesticides and chemical fertilizers in their paddy field which is deleterious to the living organisms of the lake.

Deforestation, filling, draining and degradation of wetland areas: Clearing and removal of native vegetation due to the rapid unplanned developmental activity in the lake area is not only reducing the native vegetation biodiversity, but also reduces fauna biodiversity through the loss of habitat for breeding, nesting, and feeding and increased competition for existing habitat areas..

Lack of awareness, scientific knowledge and negligence in protection by law: Landowners of the surrounding areas are not aware about conservation aspects of biodiversity on their land. Due to lack of scientific knowledge, and the complexity of ecosystems, it is often hard to predict what impacts certain activities will have on certain species or ecosystems, or what factors are causing individual species decline. Every year during November to April, peoples from different parts of the state as well as from outside, visit the place for picnic purpose. But it is surprising to see the solid waste dumped by the picnic parties in the lake shoreline as well as in the lake water itself. Not even a single signboard or banner has been hanged in the areas by the concerned authority to protect and prevent the lake to be contaminated by these anthropogenic activities. The wetland is not having a definite Wetland Authority too.

At present there is a need to create strong awareness to save this wetland from the deleterious anthropogenic activities. The Rudrasagar Lake holds scope for development of eco-tourism also. The Lake is famed as one of the most beautiful place in the state from tourism point of view for the water palace ‘Neermahal’ which was constructed by the then Tripura king Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur in between 1935-1938 as summer resort. However development of tourism has been unplanned and spontaneous. The optimality of the present resource appropriation in light of its sustainability needs to be worked out through further ecological assessments and definite regulatory frame work should be in place to restore the ecological balance of the ecosystem.