India now has a network of 49 Ramsar sites covering an area of 10.93 hectares

Two more wetlands in India have been declared as Ramsar sites, taking the total number of protected sites in the country to 49, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said on Wednesday.

Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh have been recognised as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The Minister made the announcement at an event marking the celebration of World Wetlands Day on Wednesday at Sultanpur National Park, which was included in the Ramsar list last year. The United Nations recognised 'World Wetlands Day' is celebrated on February 2 to mark the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the same day in 1971.

"I am happy that two more wetlands have been added to the Ramsar sites. India now has a network of 49 Ramsar sites covering an area of 10.93 hectares, the highest in South Asia," said the Minister.

“India having the largest network of Ramsar Sites in South Asia manifests the commitment of our citizens to protect flora and fauna and live in harmony with nature," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter.

Wetlands, often known as 'liquid assets,' are crucial natural resources that help stabilise water supplies, cleanse polluted waters, protect shorelines, and recharge groundwater aquifers.

Last year, Thol and Wadhwana from Gujarat and Sultanpur and Bhindawas from Haryana made the cut for Ramsar recognition. The 49 Ramsar sites in India include the Chilika Lake in Odisha, Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, Harike Lake in Punjab, Loktak Lake in Manipur and Wular Lake in Jammu and Kashmir.