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Commuting along the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass that runs parallel to the Indian city of Kolkata, the huge expanse of the East Kolkata Wetlands is a daily sight for city dwellers, and yet most of us are unaware of the important role this natural habitat plays in our lives. Despite acknowledging the escalation in Kolkata’s urban development, hardly anyone seems to notice how the congestion of the city’s skyline is leading to a loss of habitat for many living in its shadow. One of the most productive habitats in the world, wetlands provide fish and vegetables for human consumption, serve as breeding grounds for birds and mammals, act like sponges soaking up excess water from floods, snowmelt and rainwater, and provide a natural system for water filtration. Wetlands also act as buffers, absorbing a substantial amount of energy from incoming waves, protecting coastal regions from hurricanes, tropical storms and tsunamis. Read more at http://thewip.net/contributors/2009/01/east_kolkata_wetlands_ecotouri.html