Spread over an area of 490 ha, Kanjli Wetland is one of the Artificial wetlands identified by the Indian Government. The wetland is upward of Harike Wetland which is situated in the Beas River basin in the Kapurthala district of Punjab. Since 2002, it has been internationally dedicated as a Ramsar Site. This makes it a water body of international importance. The Kanjli Lake is an integral part of the wetland. Kanjli not only has ecological importance but also some sacred and cultural significance for the people of Punjab.
The area of Kanjli was a part of the recreational spot or Saigarh for the Maharaja of Kapurthala. The Kanjli Lake was created in 1870 primarily for irrigating the vicinity by constructing headworks across the perennial Kali Bien Rivulet, a tributary of River Beas. This lake is located across an area of 184 ha.
The wetland holds a wide variety of life forms. It is also home to varied species of birds and flora and fauna. Kanjli is winter home to more than 50 species of migratory birds. The popular birds which inhabit Kanjli are Heron Common Moorrhan, Pond Heron and Purple Swanphen. The variety of tree found in this area include Ziziphus, Acacia, Mauritiana, Eucalyptus and many more. It also has some significant herbs and shrubs. Some of the common fishes found are Labeo, Cythus, Catla, Chana including others. The fauna of Kanjli include 4 species of mammals and 34 taxa of invertebrates. The lake is very famous for its picturesque views and is a tourist spot for birdwatching and boating.
However, from the past few years Kanjli is under ecological threat due to many stresses. The impact of pollution on the lake is enormously high and had lead to the Eutrophication of the water body. Due to extensive growth of Water Hyacinth, the oxygen level of the water has dropped enormously and lead to death of major life forms. Also the conversion of the wetland into agricultural land and human inhabitation has worsen the situation.
Management and Conservation measures have been taken by the concerned authorities but in vain. Government has also spent crores on the wetland but failed in maintaining the spot. The authorities also worked on controlling the spread of Water Hyacinth manually. More species of fishes have been introduced in the lake to lessen the effects of the exotic species. To prevent grazing by the cattle, fencing has been constructed around the wetland. Many biological researches are also being carried out to look for alternative measures.
Kanjli is the only wetland in Punjab which has Utricularia, a carnivore plant that eats insects. This is the importance of this wetland and we have to do our small bit in conserving this valuable entity.