India: Central Government Notifies The Awaited Wetlands (Conservation And Management) Rules, 2017

Last Updated: 3 October 2017
Article by Vanita Bhargava and Wamika Trehan

Most Read Contributor in India, October 2017

On 26 September 2017, the Government of India (Central Government) notified and published the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, which supersede the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010.


Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems, which support rich biodiversity and provide a wide range of ecosystem services. Types of wetlands include marshes, peatlands, man-made reservoirs, tanks, lakes, and inter-tidal areas. They provide a rich habitat for birds, aquatic life as well as food, drinking water and livelihood to farmers and fishermen.

Today, several wetlands are threatened by reclamation and degradation through drainage and landfill, pollution (discharge of domestic and industrial effluents, disposal of solid wastes), hydrological alteration (water withdrawal and changes in inflow and outflow), over-exploitation of their natural resources resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in ecosystem services provided by wetlands.

India is also a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. India ratified the Ramsar Convention on 1 February 1982 and is committed to conservation and wise use of all wetlands within its territory.

The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 (2010 Rules), were introduced to conserve identified wetlands and to ensure that they are not degraded. The 2010 Rules provided a much-needed legal framework for protecting wetlands. However, despite the 2010 Rules, wetlands have faced immense destruction in the form of illegal constructions, dumping and land-grabbing.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India (Ministry) took note of the inadequacies of the 2010 Rules and the need for the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations to take into account wetland ecosystem services and biodiversity values within their developmental programming and economic well-being. The Ministry also recognized that land and water, two major ecological constituents of wetland ecosystems, are enlisted as State subjects as per the Constitution of India, 1950.

As such, with a view to rectify the said inadequacies, the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 25, read with Section 3(1), Section 3(2)(v) and Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, published the draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016, dated 31 March 2016 (Draft Rules) for information of the public likely to be affected thereby, inviting objections and comments.

Further, as per the submissions on behalf of the Union of India recorded in the order dated 8 February 2017 passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India (Hon'ble Supreme Court) in the matter of MK Balakrishnan & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors. Writ Petition (Civil) No.230/2001, as many as 175 comments were received and for the examination of these comments, a Committee had been constituted. The Committee was given 45 days to look into the suggestions and submit its report to the Union of India. In the given circumstances, by way of the said order dated 8 February 2017, the Hon'ble Supreme Court directed that the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016 should be notified on or before 30 June 2017.

Finally, in light of the directions of the Supreme Court and in order to identify, protect and conserve over 2 lakh wetlands in India, the Central Government notified and published the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 (2017 Rules) in the Official Gazette on 29 September 2017. The 2017 Rules replace the 2010 Rules, which provided for the establishment of Central Wetlands Authority to decide on all activities relating to wetlands. The 2017 Rules, on the other hand, provides for respective state-level wetland authorities with the Central Government having a limited role through a national wetlands committee, headed by the Union Environment Secretary as its Chairperson.

Salient features of the 2017 Rules

The 2017 Rules decentralise wetlands management and provide for the constitution of the State Wetlands Authority or Union Territory Wetlands Authority (Authorities) under Rule 5(1) and Rule 5(2), respectively. Rule 5(3) lays down the powers and functions of the Authorities. These Authorities will be headed by the State's Environment Minister and include a range of government officials. They will also include one expert each in the fields of wetland ecology, hydrology, fisheries, landscape planning and socioeconomics to be nominated by the respective state government.

The Authorities will also need to prepare a list identifying all wetlands of the State or Union Territory within three months, a list of wetlands to be notified within six months, and a comprehensive digital inventory of all wetlands within one year, which will be updated every ten years. The Authorities will need to develop a comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted within the notified wetlands and their zone of influence. The Authorities will also recommend additional prohibited activities for specific wetlands, define strategies for conservation and wise use of wetlands, and will undertake measures for enhancing awareness within stakeholders and local communities on values and functions of wetlands.

Rule 2(1)(i) defines the term "wise use of wetlands" as maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through implementation of ecosystem approach within the context of sustainable development. As per Rule 4, the wetlands shall be conserved and managed in accordance with the principle of 'wise use' as determined by the relevant Authority. Rule 5(4)(g) gives powers to the Authorities to define strategies for conservation and wise use of wetlands within their jurisdiction; wise use being a principle for managing these ecosystems which incorporates sustainable uses (such as capture fisheries at subsistence level or harvest of aquatic plants) as being compatible with conservation, if ecosystem functions (such as water storage, groundwater recharge, flood buffering) and values (such as recreation and cultural) are maintained or enhanced;

Rule 4(2) prohibits activities like conversion of wetland for non-wetland uses including encroachment of any kind, setting up of any industry and expansion of existing industries, manufacture or handling or storage or disposal of hazardous substances and construction and demolition waste, solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages and other human settlements. However, interestingly, the Proviso to Rule 4(2) also provides that the Central Government may consider proposals from the State Government or Union Territory Administration for omitting any of the activities on the recommendation of the Authority.


Although the objective for the introduction of the 2017 Rules is indeed laudable, it would be interesting to see the manner of implementations and the effects thereof. It seems that there are still some issues that remain unaddressed. For instance, the principle of "wise use of wetlands", already defined rather subjectively under Rule 2(1)(i) as above stated, is left to be determined by the Authorities under Rule 4(1), without providing for any specific guiding parameters for such determination.

Similarly, although Rule 4(2) lays down restrictions on activities in wetlands and lists out prohibited activities, the proviso gives ample space to the Authorities to permit activities which ought to be prohibited. A comprehensive arrangement of this nature at the whims and discretion of the state government can be best mentioned as a lip service to wetland conservation in India.

Furthermore, although Rule 5(6) makes provision for a grievance committee to be constituted by the Authority, to provide a mechanism for hearing and forwarding the grievances raised by public to the Authority, however, the Rules do not provide for an appeal therefrom.

The content of this document do not necessarily reflect the views/position of Khaitan & Co but remain solely those of the author(s). For any further queries or follow up please contact Khaitan & Co at

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.