As we go along the EM Byepass, have we ever noticed the presence of numerous waterbodies and canals along the way? Yes, we all have. And we have witnessed another major thing. High rises are slowly but steadily occupying the places where wetlands stood. How many of us know that the vast wetlands lying to the east of the city is a part of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance? It is rather sad to say, most residents of Kolkata knows very little about its wetlands which in many ways saves Kolkata from many natural and man-made hazards.
Wetlands cover approximately four to six percent of the Earth’s surface and contain about 35% of global terrestrial carbon. In India, wetlands cover an estimated three percent of India’s land area. This 8000 hectare of wetlands form an incredible yet neglected part of the megacity, Kolkata.
In the early 1980s, Dr. Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, was searching for the question – what exactly happens to the city waste. He came to find out that these natural waterbodies, partly devised by local fisherman and farmers, serves as natural sewage treatment plant for the city. As a result, even today, Kolkata survives without a single sewage treatment plant.
Additionally, East Kolkata Wetlands claims the unique distinction of being the largest “wastewater-fed aquaculture system” in the world where the sewage is recycled for pisciculture and agriculture. Now, researchers have shown that the internationally recognised East Kolkata Wetlands locks-in over 60% of carbon from the wastewater it encounters, which might otherwise pile up in the atmosphere.
“The wetlands act as a carbon sink and clean up the city’s air. The carbon is sequestered in soil and biota (plant and animal life) of the EKW [East Kolkata Wetlands] ecosystem. If this 60% carbon is not stored by the EKW then it would have dissipated into the atmosphere,” said study author Sudin Pal, of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.
- Scroll.in – https://scroll.in/article/874651/a-new-study-on-east-kolkata-wetlands-carbon-absorption-abilities-is-a-wake-up-call-for-conservation
- The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/mar/09/kolkata-wetlands-india-miracle-environmentalist-flood-defence