The Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary (OBP&WLS) is caught in crosshairs.
While it is now recognised as an Important Bird Area, having the presence of 19 globally endangered bird species, two of its resident bird species have vanished. One of the two species is Saras crane.
These are some of the findings of a report submitted by the Bombay Natural
History Society (BNHS) — India's premier non-government organisation institute on nature conservation — to the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Supreme Court.
The report cited 12 recommendations on measures to be undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh government to “mitigate the impact” of the controversial Bhim Rao Ambedkar Memorial Park Project on the Okhla Sanctuary.
The recommendations came after the ministry requested the BNHS to "examine" the issue.
The report mentioned that apart from the BNHS, the BirdLife International (a global alliance of conservation organisations, has given this centrally protected sanctuary the Important Bird Area status since it “harbours many globally threatened (bird) species and has more than 20,000 birds in the year”, says the report, a copy of which is with HT
The report said, “Pollution and solid-waste are the biggest problem of Okhla wetland.”
It added, “Due to rapid urbanisation all around, the Okhla Bird Sanctuary is becoming an island. The winter ducks at Okhla are dependent upon the surrounding areas for feeding. The construction of a large public park, with huge cemented area and building has put further pressure on the sanctuary. It is important to develop an eco-sensitive buffer zone around the Sanctuary,” it said.
Of the resident birds, the Saras crane and the lesser adjutant have not been sighted in 10 years “mainly due to the destruction of smaller wetlands around Okhla,” said the report.