Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt of India had sanctioned a research project to Dr. Onkar Singh Brraich, Assistant Professor, Deptt. of Zoology and Environmental Sciences, Punjabi University, Patiala entitled “Ecological Studies on the Ranjit Sagar Wetland with special reference to fish community structure” and provided with a research grant of an amount of Rs. 22,40,784/- (Rupees twenty two lakhs forty thousands and seven hundred eighty four only) to conduct research on Ranjit Sagar Wetland (National Wetland) for three years.
It is pertinent to mention here that Punjab State is bestowed with three Internationally Important Wetlands (Ramsar sites) i.e. Harike, Roapr and Kanjli wetlands and two National Wetlands i.e. Ranjit Sagar and Nangal wetland. Wetlands are very important ecosystems which consist of valuable plants and animals, helps in ground water recharging, protects from floods during rainy season, sediment retention, water purification and provide habitat for a diverse number of threatened plants and animals, attract lakhs of migratory birds every year during the winter season.
But wetlands now a days are losing its vigor due to certain reasons like pollution from various industries and agricultural fields, loss of habitat, reclamation of wetland areas for agricultural as well as developmental purposes, deforestation, illegal poaching of threatened animals, introduction of exotic species and diversion of wetland water for irrigation purposes. Many natural wetlands in Punjab are completely reclaimed for agricultural purposes. There is a lack of awareness among the general masses about the important functions of wetlands. Wetlands also provide livelihood to many people living in the vicinity. There is a dire need to initiate conservation activities for wetlands. This research project is step in this direction.
Ranjit Sagar wetland is very new to any research exploitation. No research data is available on this wetland right from its inception. It is well known fact that wetland ecosystems are degrading drastically due to the anthropogenic activities and many important animals and plants are on the verge of extinction. Under this project seasonal variation of Fishes, Birds and other wetland animals of Ranjit Sagar Wetland will be studied. The data on animals will be correlated with major abiotic factors. Identification of ecological problems being faced by this wetland so far will also be carried out and conservational measures will be suggested. So it’s a profound privilege for the Department of Zoology and Environmental Sciences, Punjabi University, Patiala to take up research activities on this wetland. The efforts of generation of data during the course of study would be very helpful to designate this wetland as Ramsar Site.