Death of Okhla Bird Park and Wildlife Sanctuary | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Death of Okhla Bird Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Between March 2007 and March 2009, the bird population at the fell by around 2,900 birds.

delhi Updated: Jul 16, 2009 01:01 IST
Abhishek Sharan

Between March 2007 and March 2009, the bird population at the fell by around 2,900 birds.

The dainty Golden Orioles, which are recognised by their yellow body, brown wings and pink beak, are gone. Fewer woodpeckers, the spotted Indian eagle and white-throated kingfishers can be seen.

The Rs 187-crore Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Memorial and Museum project, spread over 33 hectares of land in Noida, has taken away their habitat.

A report submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests by a team of experts says completion of the project would sound the death knell for the bird sanctuary, located 14 kms from Connaught Place.

The team, which inspected the site last Friday, found that the project did not have any mandatory Central environmental clearances.

The report, of which HT has a copy, establishes that the ongoing construction activities — that began 19 months ago in January 2008 — at the project site have shrunk the sanctuary's population that is at its maximum between September and March.

The sanctuary’s bird population showed a 12 per cent decrease in March 2009 when compared to the count for the corresponding month in 2007, says the report.

Citing data from the work of a team of ornithologists working for the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), the report says bird population here fell from 24,166 in March 2007 to 21,272 in March 2009.

The birds are gone because their habitat has been destroyed.

Over 6,000 soft trees — which include species like Subabool (Leucaena leucocephala), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Alstonia scholaris and Dalbergia sissoo — were cut at the project site.
Local bird watcher and avian researcher Anand Arya said most birds like the Golden Oriole and woodpeckers would make their nests on these trees.

Arya has been working on the sanctuary's resident birds since 2001.

The illumination system and heat and noise generated from the ongoing construction work — on 24X7 according to locals — would also “endanger the existence of the bird sanctuary itself”, says the report.

“Once the project gets completed, the high degree of illumination will have an adverse impact on the breeding cycle and general behaviour of water birds,” says the report signed by Chief
Conservator of Forests Azam Zaidi.

The report further says: “The large scale concrete structures will raise the temperature of the surroundings that may adversely affect the micro-climate along the sanctuary.”