Photo credit: SAFE

The East Kolkata Wetlands were designated as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ in 2002. The East Kolkata Wetlands are often called the ‘kidney of Kolkata’ because they are a natural waste water treatment for 680 million litres of raw sewage from the 120 million inhabitants of the city every day.  The wetlands reduce the wastewater costs to almost zero.

The wetland ecosystem supports livelihoods thousands of people who make a living from fisheries, paddy and vegetable cultivation. The large waterbody helps regulate the local region and buffer against flooding.

Photo credit: SAFE

Surrounded by two developing townships of Salt Lake and Newtown / Rajarhat, the wetland spreads over 125 sq. km and is one of the largest in the Ganga delta. The wetland is under threat from this rapid urban encroachment, reducing its ability to filter wastewater and support the livelihoods of people with few alternatives.

HSBC India employees are helping scientists, researchers, local planners and the local community to conserve wetland services and livelihoods. They monitored a large number of areas for water quality and 104 plant species in the wetlands over three years assisting local scientists with an extensive monitoring programme.

The data have led to the passing of the Chhainavi Declaration, a voluntary agreement setting out the scientific management of the wetlands.

Working with local communities, learning modules were developed to aid local solutions. 480 fishermen in nine fishermen cooperatives learnt the use of ecological modules and
rapid field testing kits for habitat health assessments of wetlands and agricultural. With enhanced knowledge, communities can adopt eco-friendly practices to improve fish stocks, vegetation and ecotourism.

 “Improved access to fresh water has a direct positive impact on people and communities, leading to significant social economic and environmental benefits.

Together we can help improve access to clean water, and ensure there’s clean consumable water for future generations.” said Manish Kumar Das, from HSBC’s Approvals Quality Team.

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