Did You Know There's A UN Ramsar Site Right In The Middle Of The City?

Editors posted on 26 September

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Just a five minute drive from Ruby Hospital will get you to this unique stretch of wetlands in Kolkata.

What Is It?

East Kolkata Wetlands {EKW} is a patchwork of canals, vegetable plots, rice paddies and fish ponds spread across 8,000-hectare which filter and recycle one-third of the city’s sewage and most of its domestic refuse into a rich harvest of fish and fresh vegetables. The organic water treatment by algae-bacteria symbiosis happens simultaneous to pisiculture in the shallow fish ponds. A series of natural treatment processes – including the use of plats like Eichhornia crassipes – filters out oil,  grease and heavy metals, and transforms the area into thriving farms. The area’s many bheris {natural waterbodies used to farm fish, devised by local fishermen and farmers} serve as a natural sewage treatment plant for the city.

EKW has been designated as a Ramsar site by the UN recently. Headquartered in Geneva, Ramsar Convention is an international body for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.

Apart form the wetlands, India has 25 Ramsar sites or ‘wetlands of international importance’, including Chilika Lake, Dal Lake and Bhitarkanina Mangroves.

Why Should I Go?

If that isn’t enough, listen to this: This place was highlighted by Ramsar – along with Uganda’s Nakivubo swamp – as a desired model of using wetlands for sewage treatment for optimum reuse of water in order to fight global water crisis.

This is also a great place to observe an amazing eco system, it houses hundreds of plant species, including water hyacinths which is used to create a buffer between land and water to minimise erosion. Snakes found here include the checkered keel back, the buff striped keel back and bronze back tree snake. Over 40 species of birds can be spotted at the wetlands.

Anything Else?

You can take a walking tour or explore the area on cycles – just register with a city-based tours outfit like Calcutta Walks here.

Check out some amazing photos of the area here.