Earth Day – Okhla Bird sanctuary situated in Delhi, is an ailing sanctuary that has driven away the most precious winged visitors. The sanctuary was once most preferred destination for over 300 bird species, especially waterbirds.
“Over 150 migratory species no longer visit the park. The sanctuary is a shadow of its former self. Thousands of trees have been cut for construction of residence of an influential person. Now realty projects have completely taken over the buffer zone”, says bird watcher Nikhil Devsar.
Apart from being a bird sanctuary famous for rarest bird species, Okhla was a very important microhabitat that could have been an excellent groundwater recharge system as well as the city’s lung in terms of trees and green cover that it offered to the city.
As a result, Delhi faces frequent climate changes , water scarcity and polluted air to name a few evident issues at hand. If the wetland would have been intact quality of life would have been much better that it is today.
Whos Responsible ?
Well , nobody to blame but ourselves. Humans have destroyed this rich wetland ecosystem. The boundary wall towards the Jamia Nagar side in Delhi is broken up at several places to dump wastes, leading to the degradation of the Okhla Sanctuary which was once a rich wetland ecosystem. Some rare birds like yellow crowned woodpecker, alexandrine parakeet, spotted red shank and Egyptian vulture are said to be missing due to the birds getting electrocuted by the high tension power lines passing across the park, although the staff doesn’t share the number of birds electrocuted, but admits that wires have obstructed their pathway.
Wetlands, according to the Ramsar convention on wetlands define it as areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life enhances the biodiversity in the ecosystem.
Hon’ble Supreme Court has ruled that 10 km radius around any such ecosystem has to be maintained as a buffer-zone wherein no construction/encroachment should be allowed. However, it is reported that at least 10 realty projects have come up within a kilometer radius of the sanctuary’s Noida boundary, Delhi side. This shows lack of enforcing will by the concerned authorities and moreover I feel it shows that human has become so insensitive, that he is concerned only in exploiting and destroying the place where he lives rather than protecting it for the welfare of self and everyone around.
Not only in Delhi, in Bhopal too the upper lake is shrinking. MP Pollution Control Board (MPPCB)had arranged for survey regarding pollution activities going on near the upper lake way back in 2010 and that too because of a petition filed by Dr. Alankarita Mehra, a radiologist to Central zonal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
Everything is not lost . But we need to act FAST!!
“Wetland across the country are neglected as they are often on prime property unlike forests”,says Ramki Sreenivasan, conservationist and birder.
Very true but all is not lost. On Bhopal Upper Lake issue, NGT pulled up authorities for laxity to demarcate the catchment areas of upper lake and identify the encroachers and take steps against the encroachers. The case is still under hearing process but at least it will deter fresh encroacher from further destroying the ecological system of the upper lake.
Time has come where a balanced approach for the development of biodiversity which is good for humans, plants and animals has become a necessity, before any epidemic strikes us due to our activities of damaging our environment. Recent researches from University of Exeter and Oxford have found the climate change is helping pests and diseases that attack crops to spread around the world, this study suggests that crop pests are moving at an average of 3km yearly. The team said they are heading towards the north and south poles and were establishing in areas that were once too cold for them to live in. This is spread of harmful biodiversity which is not favorable for human health and ecological balance.
We have a law for the preservation of Biological Diversity in place though it has come very late , guess somewhere around 2004. It is a comprehensive act that states “the variability among living organisms from all sources and the ecological complexes of which they are part and include diversity within species or between species and of eco-systems”. The Act also defines Biological resources “as plants, animals and their parts thereof, their genetic material and by products (excluding value added products) with actual or potential use or value, but does not include human genetic material”.
Now as we have the law to protect biodiversity, we need to strengthen the buffers of ecosensitive zones as well as provide corridors within the protected areas network. They will also check the adverse effect of industrialization and unplanned development.
Remember that we have only one earth to live !
Biological Diversity Act 2002
Times of India, Bhopal dated 05th Sept 2013
Times of India, Bhopal dated 01st Oct 2013
Patrika, Bhopal dated 03rd Sept 2013