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Management Action Plan for Rudrasagar Lake, Tripura

Rudrasagar, a floodplain wetland of Gumti River, is of national importance identified by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, considering its ecological and socio-economic significance in the region. Concerned over its rapidly deteriorating status , Government of Tripura engaged WISA for formulation of a Management Action Plan.


Action Description:

Management Action Plan for Rudrasagar Lake, Tripura 

Rudrasagar, a floodplain wetland of Gumti River, is of national importance identified by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, considering its ecological and socio-economic significance in the region. Concerned over its rapidly deteriorating status , Government of Tripura engaged WISA for formulation of a Management Action Plan.

Rudrasagar is a wetland of national importance identified by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, considering its ecological and socio-economic significance.  It is a floodplain wetland within Gumti River basin which periodically used to get inundated leading to sustainable fisheries and agriculture development.  The drastic reduction of forest cover in the catchment and hydrological intervention by construction of a channel connecting it with Gumti led to shrinkage of the wetland area from 1000 ha prior to 1950s to less than 100 ha at present.  Concomitant was the rapid development of agriculture which the lake which led to shrinkage of its area and degradation of its bioresources.

Emphasis on food security for rapidly increasing population within the lake area led to the sectoral policies with the major  thrust on agriculture development.  The decline of fisheries over a period of time due to degradation of the lake enhanced encroachments in the lake for agriculture development.  Presently, more than half of the lake area has been reclaimed for cultivation of food crops and vegetables.  Construction of bunds and embankments within and around the wetland has totally altered its natural hydrological regimes.

Increasing population within the wetland catchments has accelerated the process of catchment degradation leading to soil erosion and consequently enhanced lake siltation.  These factors have led to overall loss of benefits naturally accrued from natural functioning of wetland ecosystem.  Overall there is very little understanding of the the nature of wetland ecosystems and the need for its conservation and maintenance of overall ecosystem integrity.

Concerned on its rapid deterioration , Government of Tripura engaged Wetlands International - South Asia for formulation of a Management Action Plan for Rudrasagar. The Action Plan formulated for a period of five years emphasizes on an urgent need to understand the basic structure and functioning of Rudrasagar lake ecosystem and factors influencing the processes and functions of lake ecosystem.   The management action plan formulated calls for immediate action on the following:

  • Setting up of a Rudrasagar Development Authority (RDA) under the aegis of departments of Forests and Wildlife, which has a broader mandate to conserve catchments and wildlife within the lake area.  The RDA through participatory process will coordinate with all concerned line agencies of the government as well as local communities and NGOs with the overall objective of conservation of lake ecosystem while providing sustained economic benefits to the beneficiaries.
  • Adopt preventive approach by rehabilitation of degraded forest of 1000 ha of unclassified government forests in 9 microwatersheds; aided regeneration in 2000 ha of degraded forest area in upper reaches in 9 microwatersheds; bamboo plantation along the banks of Noacherra, Mayarani Cherra and Durlavnarayan cherra; and small scale engineering measures by construction of 12 silt detention structures, 120 gully control structures, 10 water harvesting structures and 60 vegetative check dams. In order to provide additional income generation, horticulture development by plantation of improved varieties of vegetable crops, multi layered household production systems with a variety of species has been proposed in the plan.
  • In order to reduce pressure on forests plantation of fuel wood and fodder species along with medicinal plants has been proposed in 500 ha of community owned lands within the nine microwatersheds.  Enrich homestead lands for enhanced production of useful biomass by introducing three storey vegetation above ground in 150 ha of two microwatersheds has been proposed to reduce pressure on natural forests.
  • Agro-forestry, agro-silviculture, agro-pastoral systems, agri – horti – silvi pastoral systems, horticulture based systems and horti – silvi – pastoral systems need to be undertaken for treatment of areas under control shifting which would ensure sustained economic benefits to the communities practicing shifting cultivation.  This would gradually lead to the control of shifting cultivation and use of shifting cultivation areas for ecological and economic benefits. 
  • Water management for balancing agriculture production and sustainable fisheries development is critical to overall management of the lake.  Several plans based on limited information and without realizing their environmental impacts and overall changes in resources which are linked with livelihoods.  Inventorization and assessment of changes in ecological regimes due to developmental activities has been proposed which can be utilized for the decision making and overall environmental practices. 
  • Fisheries constitute the most importance economic activity related to Rudrasagar. Enhancement of fish yield from current 13 mt to 240 mt through capture fisheries development has been proposed by restocking of native and economically important species preferred by the local communities.  Improvement of post harvesting and marketing infrastructure for additional incomes to the fisher community by establishment of ice factory and procurement of insulated van. 
  • Conservation of waterbirds through establishment of community reserve in eastern part of the Neer Mahal and awareness generation through communication education and public awareness programme has been proposed to enhance biodiversity.  This would also enhance ecotourism potential of the lake.
  • An investment of Rs. Seven Crores and sixty two Lakhs over a period of five years has been proposed . Overall 9700 households living in the catchment and the lakeshore village will be benefited through increased income by enhance fisheries and production of timber, fuelwood, bamboo and fodder. Of the total investment, 76% is proposed for ecosystem conservation comprising catchment conservation, water management and 21% for sustainable fisheries development and livelihood improvement. The economic analysis carried out indicates that the entire investment would be recovered within five years.  The direct benefits have been estimated to be 147.87 crores after fifteen years.  The overall cost benefit ratio is 1:39.19 within internal rate of return is 89%. This is only possible if the lake is conserved for harnessing its multiple benefits generated through its natural processes and functions subjected to conservation of lake catchments.  The business as usual scenario even considering that the entire lake would be converted for agriculture production the returns over a period of 15 years would be only 2.5 crores compared to returns from fisheries alone amounting to 18.13 crores.  This necessitates change of policy by the government to shift the present focus on agriculture to conservation of lake for sustained higher benefits with social equity and overall poverty reduction.


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