As part of the Living Lakes Biodiversity and Climate Project, the Nature Environment and Wildlife Society of India (NEWS) is implementing a range of activities to engage local communities, students, and stakeholders in the conservation efforts around Deepor Beel, a significant wetland in Assam.
Through their education activities, NEWS aims to create a deeper understanding of environmental issues among students and community members. By organizing informative programs and interactive sessions, NEWS emphasizes the importance of wetland conservation, the impact of pollution on the ecosystem, and the need for adopting sustainable practices to mitigate environmental degradation.
Additionally, the capacity-building sessions provide valuable knowledge and skills to local communities and other allies, enabling them to contribute to conservation efforts while promoting alternative livelihood options.
With these activities and events, NEWS is fostering a sense of responsibility towards Deepor Beel, a precious ecosystem in urgent need for conservation and restoration measures.
Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment)
On June 9, 2023, the Nature Environment & Wildlife Society (NEWS) team in collaboration with the Integrated Regional Office, Guwahati under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Govt. of India organised a day-long programme under the initiative ‘Mission LiFE’ (Lifestyle for Environment) at Azara Keotpara Primary School, near Deepor Beel. This initiative by the Government of India aims to build a mass movement of Environmental Conscious Lifestyle in the country. More than 140 students and their parents attended the event.
The event began with an inaugural speech by Dr Subrata Bose followed by a detailed deliberation by Dr. Hemen Hazarika. He spoke in length about the Mission LiFE Programme initiated by Govt. of India, the origin of life on Earth, the origin of species and the current extinction crisis. He elaborated on the ecological role of wetlands and the need for their conservation.
He spoke of the garbage dump located at Boragaon, which is polluting Deepor Beel, the only Ramsar site in Assam. During the monsoons, water percolates through the garbage dump site and gets poured into the wetland, rendering the fish and other aquatic vegetation unfit for human consumption.
Two hundred native saplings were distributed among the students and their families.
Dr Mayur Bawri, Documentation and Communication Officer, and Rimakshi Choudhury, Project Manager at NEWS, presented the Living Lakes Biodiversity and Climate Project to the audience. Dr. Reetashree Bordoloi, Environment Officer at NEWS, followed with a presentation about environmental degradation due to pollution. She also explained how to adopt the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle) principle as a solution.
To wrap up the event, the documentary “The Vanishing Vultures” was screened, and 200 local fruit-bearing saplings were distributed among the students and their parents.
A trash cleanup
On 13th of May 2023, the NEWS team participated in a trash cleanup around Deepor Beel to create awareness about waste management and disposal. A total of 50 participants took part in the event, and they managed to collect around 35 kilos of litter in an hour – a stunning amount that highlights the extent of the problem in the wetland.
The event was organized by the Guwahati Wildlife Division under “Mission LiFE” in collaboration with the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai, an autonomous Centre under MoEF&CC, held at Deepor Beel.
Pachariya Kushal Konwar High School of Kamrup District and Midway Journey, an NGO, also participated in the event. The students and participants discussed and learnt more about the pollution problems in Deepor Beel and how to address them.
Increasing awareness on the importance of biodiversity
On 24th May 2023, to commemorate International Day of Biodiversity and World Turtle Day, the NEWS team in Guwahati held awareness programs with the students of two schools: 33 No. Primary School Chakardo and Chakardo Desh Bhakta Tarunram Phukan Middle English School. A total of 72 students were present for these celebrations.
The NEWS team delivered two sessions – one focusing on the role of biodiversity and its importance to the students and another focusing on the diversity, conservation and ecological role of turtles. The students enjoyed the presentations and the discussions that took place.
Capacity Building Training for the local community
On 16th and 17th of May, NEWS organized a capacity-building session on Backyard Poultry Farming at the Government Poultry Farm, Birubari. Dr Nayanjit Deka, Manager, Govt. Poultry Farm, and Dr Irshad Ali, Pathologist, Govt. Poultry Farm, conducted the training sessions.
A total of 49 participants, from the Deepor Beel area, were trained on the various aspects of poultry farming such as farm management, disease prevention and control through proper vaccination, artificial incubation, etc.
As part of the Living Lakes Biodiversity and Climate Project, NEWS is working to improve livelihood options in the area. Alternatives livelihoods like backyard poultry farming help reduce the dependency on the natural resources of Deepor Beel, while also introducing a supplementary mode of income for local communities.