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In this issue

ENVIS Assam

An An Envis Envis Newsletter

Newsletter

Centre for State Environment Related Issues

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www.envisassam.org July to September, 2007

ENVIS (Environmental

Information System) is a

project of the Ministry of

Environment and Forests,

Govt. of India

Scenic view of Deepor Beel

2- Land use Map of Deepor Beel

2- Hydrophytes of Deepor Beel (Pictures)

3-A report on Hydrophytes of Deepor

Beel

4-Deepor Beel: the only Ramsar Site in

Assam

5- News

5- Environment Calendar

6- Deepor Beel Fact Sheet

7- Hydrophytes of Deepor Beel (Pictures)

8- Hydrophytes of Deepor Beel (Pictures)

Editorial

Sunset at Deepor Beel

Deepor Beel the State's lone Ramsar site is a natural water reservoir situated in the

western part of Guwahati at a distance of about 18 kms from the city. It lies between

o o o o

26 05'26” N and 26 09'26” N latitude and 90 36'39” E and 91 41'25” E longitude. It covers an

area of 4.14 sq. km. During rainy season particularly in the months of July and August the

wetland becomes four times larger than its core area. A perennial stream originating from

Basistha runs through the heart of the beel and joins the river Brahmaputra through

Khanamukh towards north of the Beel. This stream is also fed by Bharalu river.

Deepor Beel preserves a rich diversity of fresh water aquatic plants and harbours a variety

of fishes. Atleast 50 different species of fishes have been reported to be present in the

Beel. It provides an ideal habitat for indigenous water birds and a station for a short

duration of migratory birds during the winter months. The presence of hilly terrain and

natural forest adjoining the Beel area supports a large number of terrestrial plant and

animal species, most of them are endemic, threatened and endangered. Altogether 219

bird species have been recorded, of which 70 species are water fowl. Hundreds of

fishermen of the neighbouring villages earn their livelihood from the Beel. But, during the

last few decades there has been a gradual decline in the indigenous fish species mainly

due to unauthorised and faulty fishing techniques being practised out by the fishermen.

Deepor Beel is recorded as a permanent fresh water lake with abundant vegetation in the

Directory of Asian Wetlands. But of late there has been gradual degradation in the water

quality of the Beel. Several factors have contributed to the pollution of the Beel. These

include, flow of untreated sewage and industrial wastes from the city, rapid conversion of

the Beel area into habitational and agricultural area resulting in release of various

agricultural and residential run-offs to the Beel. Recently, Assam Science Technology &

Environment Council (ASTEC) has undertaken a restoration drive of Deepor Beel, aimed at

digging up the Beel bed and enhancing its water-retaining capacity. This is also

supplemented by plantation drive being carried out along the surrounding areas of the

Beel, because widespread deforestation on the hills have been a significant factor behind

accumulation of huge deposits of earth and silt on the bed of the Beel. Efforts have also

been made to prevent encroachment by putting up earthen embankments and erecting

fencing at strategic locations.


2

Some Hydrophytes of Deepor Beel

Submerged anchored hydrophyte : Potanogeton crispus

L. common in shallow water, flowered in month of

March along with Nechamandra allerinifolia (Roxb.)

Pure colony formation by fugacious duckweed;

Lemna perpusilla Torr.

Thunb. More pictures in Page 7&8


A report on Hydrophytes of Deepor Beel

Deepor Beel, the lone Ramsar Site in the state of Assam,

preserves a rich biodiversity of fresh water aquatic plants.

Along with the aquatic plants, some non- aquatic marshy

or amphibian plants are found in the catchments area,

making a unique eco-system around the wetland. In order

to obtain a good record of Hydrophytic wetland plants and

also to observe the seasonal changes in vegetation, a study

was undertaken by the Department of Biotechnology,

Gauhati University in association with Assam Science

st

Technology & Environment Council (ASTEC) from 1

st

December 1999 to 31 August 2000. During the field study,

observations were made on habitat, distribution patters,

ecological adaptation and other macroscopic characters

such as height, length, colour, fragrance of flowers etc. of

each and individual plant species.

Critical morphological studies were made of the plant

specimen both live and specimen kept in preservatives

and short descriptions were drawn out. The plants were

primarily identified by comparing the various characters

with available literature, particularly local flora,

monographs, Reversionary works and also with preserved

authentic identified specimens of Gauhati University

Herbarium, Kanjilal Herbarium, Shillong, Central National

Herbarium, BSI, Kolkata. Nomenclature of all these taxa

were brought up to date in accordance with the

International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

The plants growing in aquatic water bodies/wetlands are

usually termed as hydrophytes. The growth and

development of hydrophytes vary according to their

habitats. The main variables in the water masses are

depth of water, the presence or absence of water through

out the year, intensity of light at different depth of water,

presence or absence of submerged flora and chemical

composition of the substrate. Based on Ecological

adaptations the Hydrophytic vegetation of Deepor Beel

has been classified into 7 (seven) categories with their

unique floristic elements that are found to grow both in

and around the water body (beel). These seven categories

are,

1. Free floating hydrophytes: This category of plants

are found to come in contact with water, air and

mostly fugacious. They include some species of

Angiosperms viz. Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms.

(Meteka), Leema perpusilla Torr (Sorupuni) etc, a few

Hydrophytic fern like Azolla pinnata, Salvina

Courtesy: Dept. of Biotechnology

Gauhati University

cucullata etc, algal species like Hydrodictyon

reticulatum in coenobia, fragmented parts of Chara,

Nitella and a member of slimy balls of Cyanophycean

species and Diatoms.

2. Submerged suspended Hydrophytes: These species

are rootless, submerged aquatic plants. They remain

suspended in water and are fugacious. They

commonly include Ceratophyllum demesum,

Utricularia aurea Lour, fragmented parts of Hydrilla

verticillata, species of Chara, Nittelle, Hydrodicton

reticulatum in Coenobia species of Spirogyra,

Zygnema and slimy ball of Cyanophycean members

that either remain suspended or attached to

submerged parts of most of the aquatic plants found in

the Beel.

3. Submerged anchored Hydrophytes: The entire plant

or part of the plant are in contact with soil and water

only and remain submerged throughout their life

time. The flowers of angiospermic plants are usually

borne on long peduncled inflorescence which may or

may not project above water. The plants of this

category include Blyxa aubertii Rich, Hydrilla

verticillata Royle, Nechamandra alternifolia etc. and

algal species like Chara and Nitelle.

4. Floating leaved anchored Hydrophytes: This

category of plants develop only in stagnant water. The

natural leaves of these plants floats on the water

surface and frequently form a closed canopy and

cover the surface of water in such an extent that

water does not get warmed. Fishes, snails, etc are

found to take shelter under the leaves during the

hottest period of the day. The species under this

category are Aponogeton natans, Euryale ferox

Salisb, Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn, Nymphaea nouchali

Burm, etc.

5. Floating shoot anchored Hydrophytes: These

aquatics have contact with soil, water as well as air.

They are perennials, usually grow in shallow water,

rooted in mud and spread out branches and float on

water. The main stem remains submerged wholly or

partially. The plants of this category are, Ipomoea

aquatica Forsk, Limnophylla sessiliflora (Vahl),

Polygonum glabrum Willd, Pseudoraphis brunoniana

Cond. to Page:6

3


Deepor Beel: the only Ramsar Site in Assam

Deepor Beel is the only Ramsar Site in Assam and the third in

the entire North East India. Situated just eighteen kilometers

away from the heart of Guwahati City, the issue of

conservation of this freshwater lake came into limelight

when Indian Railways decided to construct railway tracks

across Deepor Beel to connect Guwahati with Bongaigaon via

Goalpara. A large number of environmental activists along

with faculties of Gauhati University and Assam Engineering

College came forward to protest against the government's

move to destroy this important wetland. Giving respect to

the public's demand Government of Assam has issued

preliminary notification to declare the wetland as a Wildlife

Sanctuary in the year 1989. Since then Deepor Beel has

always been drawing attention of public for some reason or

other sometimes for encroachments, sometimes for

dumping of garbage in the nearby area by local body,

sometimes for dying of fish, sometimes for large scale silt

deposit due to poor soil conservation effort in the adjoining

hills and so on. But there are so many positives despite all

these negatives, for which Deepor Beel has shown its

potential to be an important tourists' destination in the North

East (NE) India.

Firstly, it is almost in the heart of Guwahati City, the gateway

of the NE, adjacent to the Guwahati Air Port and also well

communicated by railways from almost all the important

cities of the country. Secondly, large number of migratory

and residential birds (recorded 219 species after Saikia &

Bhattacharjee 1987) is regularly watched in the wetland

making it a birdwatchers' paradise. Along with the birds there

are many important aquatic and terrestrial fauna in and

around the wetland. The wetland is adjacent to hilly Rani-

Garbhanga Reserve forest, which is home to many

endangered animals. Elephants regularly come to this

wetland in search of food. Thirdly, The Deepor Beel

(Wetland) area hosts a diverse ethnic culture of the people

living around in 17 villages. The communities like Karbi,

Boro, Kaibarta, Hira, etc. are having their own traditional

festivals, costumes, music, dances and handicrafts. This

conglomeration of rich traditional culture gives an additional

hue to the wetland ecosystem.

Originally the Deepor Beel had its natural linkage with the

river Brahmaputra through the Borhola Beel and the swampy

areas of Pandu lying to the Northeast. But owing to the

construction of the National Highway No. 37 and other civil

works the earlier link has already been blocked. Now only

4

Jaideep Baruah

linkage with Brahmaputra is the Khanajan, the only outlet of

Deepor Beel. There is another linkage, i.e. linkage of Bharalu

rivulet with the Basishtha Bahini through the link channel

Marabharalu. During rainy season the wetland receives water

from entire city of Guwahati. Moreover the wetland receives

water because of surface run off from the nearby hills.

The main ecological significances of Deepor Beel may be

listed like as a natural storm water reservoir, a natural fish

producing ground, as a controlling factor of environmental

quality, as a natural biomass producer, as a wildlife habitat,

etc.

Government of Assam, through the Environment Division of

the Assam Science Technology & Environment Council

(ASTEC) has prepared a management action plan (MAP) for

Deepor Beel and its implementation is also going on with

support from the Ministry of Environment & Forests,

Government of India. MAP included socio-economic

development programmes of the surrounding villagers, desilting

of the wetland, removal of aquatic weeds, education

and awareness programmes, soil conservation activities in

the hill slopes, increase of green covers, demarcation of the

boundary, etc.

Deepor Beel promises to be a ideal site for wetland

conservation programme, but it needs a coordinated effort

by different stakeholders, government departments like

Environment & Forests, Fisheries, Tourism, local municipal

body, panchayats, etc.

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News Clippings

Silk variety gets GI registration

Sushanta Talukdar

Guwahati: The golden-yellow Muga silk of Assam has been

granted Geographical Indication (GI) registration by the GI

Registry in Chennai.

The registration was done on July 20 on the basis of its

uniqueness. It has been identified as a silk of given quality,

reputation and characteristic, attributable to the

geographical area of Assam since time immemorial.

A formal presentation of the registration to Assam Chief

Minister Tarun Gogoi is scheduled here on Thursday. This is the

first instance of a product from Assam receiving GI

registration.

The application for registration was filed by the Patent

Information Centre of the Assam Science Technology and

Environment Council, which is now its registered proprietor on

behalf of the Government of Assam.

GI marks out a designated product of a definite

geographical territory and is used to identify agricultural,

natural or manufactured goods originating from the territory.

Such registration confers legal protection in India and the

world over, prevents unauthorised use, boosts exports and

benefits producers in a given geographical territory. The

Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and

Protection) Act, 1999 gives the right to register a protected

name to three categories of persons the actual producers

and groups of such producers of goods specified in the

geographical area, groups of consumers, and any

competent authority.

About 40 registered products exist in India under the GI

Registry, including Mysore silk, Darjeeling Tea, Alphonso

mango and Basmati rice.

Muga silk is obtained from the silkworm Antheraea

assamensis found in Assam. It has a natural golden colour

and lustrous texture, and id durable. Its sheen increases with

every wash.

The Muga mekhela-chador is a traditional dress of Assamese

women for bihu dances and weddings. It is in demand in

Japan to make kimonos, and in countries such as the U.S.,

Greece, Germany, South Africa and France.

Source: The Hindu, Wednesday, Aug 22, 2007

State Zoo to carry out captive breeding

By a Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Sept 1 In a significant development for the

conservation of select species it has been decided that

scientific captive breeding would be carried out in Assam

State Zoo, Guwahati. Even though there have been instances

of some wildlife breeding well in the zoo, it would be for the first

time that scientific captive breeding would take place under

strict supervision. Among the species identified for the project

are one-horned rhino, golden langur, serow, and grey Bhutan

pheasant.

The Central Zoo Authority has already given the green signal

for the endeavour to be spread over several years, and would

also provide necessary funds and knowledge inputs.

The captive breeding programme has carefully selected the

species because all of them face grave threats in the wild.

Besides, their numbers are closeted in few wildlife areas,

which make them vulnerable to habitat destruction or an

outbreak of disease.

Speaking to The Assam Tribune, Narayan Mahanta the Zoo

DFO said, “It is indeed a matter of pride for the zoo, because

the Central Zoo Authority has recognised its potential to carry

out the ambitious programme.”

He revealed that the captive breeding programme would

have to be carried out in a “methodical and systematic” way.

In any captive breeding programme there are a great many

variables, which would all have to be dealt with so that the

offspring are healthy.

The new project would necessitate the building of new

enclosures and using experts who can carry out the

programme. Mahanta was confident that the Zoo would

have the infrastructure and personnel prepared by next year.

It is believed that the captive breeding project would put the

State Zoo firmly on the national conservation map. The spin

offs to students and researchers of zoology would also be

immense, because the emerging opportunities would be

rare in this part of the country.

Plans are also afoot to procure new species for the zoo. By late

this month or early October, six new animals would be

acquired from the Jamshedpur-based Tata Zoo. Along with

two black bucks, a pair of emu and a pair of golden

pheasants would be brought by special transport. The

Guwahati Zoo would part with six animals as part of the

exchange.

Environment Calendar:

� July 11:World Population Day

� July 28:World Nature Conservation Day

� August 9:International Day of the World's

Indigenous People

� September 16: World Ozone Day

5


A report on Hydrophytes of Deepor Beel

Contd. from Page:3 1. Name: Deepor Beel (Beel means wetland in

Asomeeya language)

6

Griff etc. During winter months when water level

reduces plants of this category become terrestrial, their

stems and leaves get reduced, but at the advent of rain

these plants again show their normal growth and

development.

6. Emergent anchored Hydrophytes: Usually this category

of plants grow in shallow water and along the bank of the

Beel. The roots, lower parts of stems and sometimes the

lower leaves remain submerged. The apical parts and

flowers rise above the water surface. The species under

this category include Aescheromene aspera L,

Aitenanthera philoxeroides Griseb, Echinochloa crusgalli

L, Ipomoea fistulosa Mart, Oryza minuta Presl,

Ranunculus scleratus L., etc.

7. Swamps, marsh and Wetlands Hydrophytes: These

plants are found all among the bank of the beel where

the soil is saturated with water atleast in early part of

plant life. Most of them continue to thrive even if the

substratum considerably drives up. The species under

this category include Amaranthus polygonoides L.,

Eclipta prostratr L., Euphorbia indica Lamk, Ludwigia

adscendens, L. perennis, Sagittaria trifolia L. etc.

Besides the above mentioned categories, floating aquatic

Mats are often found scattered in higher depth of water. The

aquatic plants particularly Azolla pinnata, Eichchornia

crassipes, Hidrilla verticillata, Pistia stratiotes, Salvinia

cucullata, Trapa natans etc. are found in abundance, but

they die when the water level reduces and produce

considerable deposits of detritus. Certain species of plants

form complete carpet over the surface of water during

certain periods showing seasonal variation in their growth.

Carpet formed by broad leafed plants create problem in

navigation and disturb the normal growth and development

of submerged plants. Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms,

Euryale ferox Salisb, Lemna perpusilla Torr., Trappa natans

L. etc and also a species of Algae Hydrodictyon recticulatum

form pure carpet formation and cover sufficient area of

Beel.

It has been observed that Deepor Beel preserves a rich diversity

of aquatic plants. Although the aquatic plants are generally

termed as Aquatic weeds and regarded as a “menace” yet these

are now considered as source of multipurpose raw materials.

These plants are also ideal sources of food for herbivores,

fishes and other aquatic organisms.

This report and photographs of Hydrophytes in this issue area

based on a study conducted by ASTEC through the Dept. of

Biotechnology, Gauhati University with Prof. G. Bhowmik as the PI.

Deepor Beel Fact Sheet:

2. Status: (i) Notified a Wildlife Sanctuary

(proposed) under the Wildlife

Protection Act of India, 1972

(ii) Declared a Ramsar Site in August

2002

3. Location: Longitude : 90°36' 39" E and 91°41'

25"E

Latitude: 26°05'26"N and 26o09'26"N

4. Area: Protected area: 4.14 Km2

5. Distance: 18 Km west from Guwahati City in

Assam, India & about 8 Km east from

Borjhar Airport in Guwahati

6. Contact: (i) The Divisional Forest Officer,

Guwahati Wildlife Division, A.T. Road,

Santipur, Guwahati-781009, Assam,

India

Tel.- 0361-2656771(P)

(ii) The Director, Assam Science

Technology & Environment Council,

Bigyan Bhawan, GS Road, Guwahati

781 005, Assam India

Ph. 0361-2464619/21, Fax:0361-

2464617

e-mail astec@rediffmail.com

7. Monitoring Department: Department of Environment &

Forests, Government of Assam, India

8. Implementing Agency for Management Action Plan:

Assam Science Technology &

Environment Council

9. Accommodation: Good accommodation available in

adjacent Guwahati City

10. Number of bird species identified: 219

11. Largest bird counts on a day: 19000

12. Important hydrophytes: Euryale ferox, Lemna

perpusilla, Lippia javanica,

Potanogeton crispus, Trapa natans,

etc.

13. Number of villages around: 17

14. Name of communities: Karbi, Kaibarta, Nepali, Boro,

Hira

15. Important festivals: Domahi Kikan, Dehal Puja, Fishing

Festival, Ganga Puja

16. Important NGOs associated: 1. Dakhin Deepor Beel

Unnayan Samittee; 2. Deepor Beel

Pachpara Samabai Samittee Ltd.;

3. Aaranyak; 4. Early Birds.


Some Hydrophytes of Deepor Beel contd...

Submerged anchored hydrophytes : Vallisneria

natans (Lour.) Hara showing luxuriant growth

Euryale ferox Salisb. - Common floating leaved

anchored hydrophyte showing fully developed leaves

A close view of Trapa natans L. var. bispinosa (Roxb.)

Makino

Lippia javanica (Burm. F.) Spreng. Xanthium

strumarium L. and Diplazium esculentum (Retz.) Sw. are

along the muddy banks of the Beel.

Colony formation of Euryale ferox Salisb. and Trapa

natans L. var. bispinosa (Roxb.) Makino blocking navigation

Matured fruits of Trapa natans L. var. bispinoa

(Roxb.) Makino.

7


Some Hydrophytes of Deepor Beel contd...

Right above: Submerged rootless suspended hydrophyte Utricularia

aurea Lour. (Bladderwort)

CHANGE OF ADDRESS

The new address of ENVIS- Assam State Centre and Assam

Science Technology & Environment Council is-

ENVIS- Assam State Centre

Assam Science Technology & Environment Council

Bigyan Bhawan, G.S. Road, Guwahati-781005, Assam

Phone-0361-2464618/19/21; Fax : 0361-2464617;

E –mail : astec@rediffmail.com

Left above: Submerged anchored Vallisneria natans (Lour.)

Hara and sprouting of Euryale ferox Salisb.; Trapa natans

L. var. bispinosa (Roxb.) Makino and Potamogeton

octandrous Poir. are seen in the foreground

Left middle: Pure colony formation by fugacious

duckweed; Lemna perpusilla Torr.

Left below: Azolla pinnata R. Br. is making pure colony

Below: Algal flora flared up after community fishing

You are welcome to contribute articles, photographs

with details, news or in any other form pertaining to

the State Environment Related Issues, Assam for

publishing in our subsequent Newsletters.

Please send your views and opinions.

Disclaimer : The views expressed in Chief-Editor : Dr. Aswini K. Baruwa; Editor: Jaideep Baruah; Assistant Editors : Manisha Sarmah, Neelkamal Das, Sandeep

the signed articles do not necessarily Bhattacharjee, Published and circulated by Assam Science Technology and Environment Council, Bigyan Bhawan,

reflect ASTEC’s views on the subject. G.S.Road, Guwahati-781005, Assam E-mail: asm@envis.nic.in, Printed at Brahmaputra Offset, MC Road, Guwhati-781003

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