Nature body asks UP to protect Okhla park
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), India's premier non-government organisation institute on nature conservation, has recommended that the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government should urgently declare areas up to 10 km of the Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary and other protected areas as eco-sensitive zonesdelhi Updated: Aug 09, 2010 00:29 IST
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), India's premier non-government organisation institute on nature conservation, has recommended that the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government should urgently declare areas up to 10 km of the Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary and other protected areas as eco-sensitive zones.
The BNHS made the recommendation, along with 11 others, on measures to be undertaken by the UP state government to "mitigate the impact" of the controversial Bhim Rao Ambedkar Memorial Park Project on the Okhla Sanctuary.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) had requested the BNHS to examine the issue and submit a report.
The ministry recently informed the Supreme Court — which suspended construction work at the Park last October — that it would not give environmental clearance to the Rs 685-crore project until the UP government complied with the BNHS's recommendations.
The BNHS in its report, a copy of which is with HT, said the UP government had not declared the Okhla Sanctuary and other protected areas eco-sensitive zones despite repeated reminders sent by the MOEF since 2005.
BNHS director Asad R Rahmani had visited the Okhla Sanctuary on July 27 for an on-site inspection. The Okhla Sanctuary finds mention in Rahmani's books, ‘Important Bird Areas of India,' and ‘Existing and Potential Ramsar Sites of India.'
In its report, the BNHS said the Okhla Sanctuary was home to over 300 species of aquatic and terrestrial birds, including migratory. It said the park was an ‘important bird area" visited by more than 20,000 birds during winter and that it had "great potential to become a major tourist attraction."
It said the Okhla Sanctuary, a "wetland protected area" whose two banks are equally important, should be managed as an "inter state trans-boundary protected area in collaboration with the government of Delhi."
The BNHS report, referring to the hacking of 6,003 trees by the Noida Authority, said: "More than 6,000 trees were cut, reducing the habitat of terrestrial birds and in their place, concrete structures and pavements were built. The Noida Authority and Forest department have planted 'fruiting trees'…but such vegetation is not substitute for natural vegetation."
It added, "Even if earlier the trees were exotic (eucalyptus, subabul), it is suggested the NA should plant native (ficus, neem, mango) species."
The BNHS report suggested the Noida Authority should include "large areas adjoining" the Okhla Sanctuary as "compensation to what has been destroyed by this so-called park."
It sought a "bird-friendly, chain-link fence with vegetation on either side" instead of concrete walls between the project and the sanctuary.