Ropar wetland is a man-made freshwater and lacustrine wetland. The construction of a water barrage on the river Sutlej at Ropar led to the establishment of Ropar Wetland in 1952.
In 1996, it was declared a wetland of national importance, and in 2002, the wetland was recognized as the Ramsar site.
The wetland was primarily constructed to accumulate water and use it for purposes like irrigation, industrial, and drinking water supply. It is also known as Ropar lake.
The Ropar area itself is of historical importance as the Anglo-Sikh relations and territories were defined by the agreement between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Lord William Bentinck in 1831 that was signed under the shade of an old Ficus tree on the bank of the Sutlej river.
Importance of the Wetland
- The wetland helps replenish the groundwater and is a marshy area. It also helps in combating floods.
- The reservoir helps cater to the water requirements of distant areas through Sirhind and Bist Doab canals.
- It acts as the sink for sediments, thus leading to amelioration of the area’s water quality.
- The wetland is a perfect spot for tourism as it not only offers scenic beauty but is a perfect blend of recreational, cultural, scientific, and educative sites.
Access to the Wetland
The Ropar wetland is situated in the eastern part of Punjab in the lap of Shivalik hills on the bank of river Sutlej. It is at about 45 km in the North West of Chandigarh.
It is at 30°57′ north to 31°05’30” north latitude and 76°25’30” east to 76°36′ east longitude.
It is situated at an elevation of around 275 meters above sea level. The average depth of the wetland is about 0.5 m, and the maximum depth is at 6 meters.
The wetland covers about 13.65 sq. km, out of which 8 sq. km of the area is under river and reservoir. The woodland encompasses an area of around 0.3 sq. km, and this woodland is called Sadarvarat Forest.
It is primarily a marshy area. In this region, the soil of two types can be found i.e., reddish and tropical brown. However, in Ropar, the reddish soil is predominantly found. The texture of the soil is primarily loam to silt.
Climatic Conditions of the Area
The area is part of the semi-arid zone of Punjab; thus, it is comparatively cooler than other regions of Punjab. The temperature ranges from 4掳 Celsius in winter to 45掳 Celsius in summer. The average rainfall in this area is about 1518 mm.
A myriad of indigenous and migratory birds are inhabiting this wetland. Reports reveal that around nine species of mammals, 154 species of birds, 35 species of fishes, nine species of Arthropods, 11 Rotifers, 9 Crustaceans, and 10 Protozoans have their habitat in the wetland.
The wetland is known to sustain the species like Waterfowl, Smooth Indian Otter, Hog Deer, Sambar. Endangered species like Indian Pangolin, Turtle Chitra Indica, and Python can also be found here.
Diving birds like Coots, Common Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Tufted Pochard, River Tern, Pied Kingfisher, and Lapwing are also sighted in Ropar Wetland.
Some of the birds that fall into the category of non-diving species like Wigeon, Gadwall, Peafowl, Myna, Bulbul, and Shovellar; and some rare birds like Dinopium benghdlense, Golden-backed Woodpecker, Megalaima haemacephala, Crimson-breasted barbet, M. zeylanica, Green barbet are also found here.
Major fish species of Ropar Wetland or Ropar Lake are Rohu, Seerha, Kalbans, Gid, Kunni, Thal, Mori, Puthi, Ticher, Common Carp, Mirror carp, Grass Carp, Mali, Sangarha, Sam, Kanghi, Shisha Machi, Dolla, Curd. Other aquatic inhabitants found are Tire track eel and Snake-headed fish.
Some species of amphibians and snakes are also present. Species of amphibians include Indian tiger frog, Indian rice frog, Indian burrowing Frog, and Common toad. Snake species include Common Indian Krait, Russel’s viper, Phoorsa, Cobra, Blind snake, wolf snake, sans snake, and Sand boa.
Timber species like Acacia Dalbergia, Phulai, and Melia azedarach, Mulberry and other species like Siris, Neem, Semul, Amaltas, Shisham, Eucalyptus, Kher, Banyan Mango, Dek, Jambul, Ber, Mesquite, Utricularia, Ipomoea, Cyprus, Typha, Phragmites Salix, Suhanjana can be found in Ropar Wetland.
Both deciduous and evergreen trees are present in abundance. Bushes and grasses like Malha, Garuna, Phul Buti, Bhang, Bhabar grass, Kana, Kahi, Dhsula, Saela, Elephant grass, Hedge plant, Basuta are present in the wetland.
Hydrophytes like Typha sp., Eleocharis sp., Saggitaria sp., Nymphaea sp., Potamogeton sp., Vallisneria sp., Eicchornia sp., Lemna sp., and crops such as wheat, rice, sugarcane, sorghum, are also grown in the area adjacent to the wetland.
Threats to the Wetland
- Water pollution because of anthropogenic activities
- The consistent grazing in the nearby areas has almost eradicated the green cover of the surrounding hills that have left the hills more prone to erosion, ultimately leading to shrinkage of the wetland area.
- The constant obstruction from outsiders and practicing illegal fishing and poaching pose a threat to the species of flora and fauna inhabiting the wetland.
- Expansion of industrial activities has egregiously affected the ecological status of the Ropar Wetland. The industrial discharge, effluents, sewage, and other untreated wastes that flow downstream from the upper towns like Naya Nangal, Anandpur Sahib, Kiratpur Sahib contaminate water resources. The fertilizer plant in Nangal and the thermal power plant at Ropar have added fuel to the fire.
- Weed invasion by Parthenium and Lantana.
- Sand mining
Conservation of the wetland
These three basic steps can be employed to conserve the wetland:
- Re-establishment or management of water hydrology by conducting extensive surveys like Hydrologic survey, soil survey, Topographic survey to decipher the major concerns of the land. This will help to lay down a framework to conserve wetlands.
- Elimination or containing the inflow of chemicals and other perilous effluents into the water bodies
- Re-establishment and management of native biodiversity
The conservation measures started in 1996-97. Meanwhile, the conservation activities under National Wetland Conservation Programme (NCWP) began in 1998-99 at Ropar wetland. While the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Patiala conducts Sludge and Water Quality monitoring, the desired results could not be obtained due to a lack of financial aid.