Birds in Basai wetland face threat of rapid habitat loss

  • Ipsita Pati, Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Jul 01, 2016 23:42 IST
Environmentalists fear that rampant construction activity around the wetland will lead to habitat loss. (HT File Photo)

The Basai wetland, which is a bird paradise, is facing the threat of habitat loss because of unsustainable development and negligence from the authorities. About 240 species of birds were recorded at the site this season.

However, the bird count has shown a decline compared to last year. Around 320 species were spotted in the wetland a year back as per the figures of wildlife department.

Basai is only eight kilometres from Sultanpur National Park and sheltered by the protected status of the national park. But, with Dwarka Expressway coming up right next to the wetlands, environmentalists fear that this site may see a further decline in bird species.

“There is a lot of construction around Basai wetland. A number of projects have come up and are eating into the wetland. Real estate projects are coming up around Basai, and, also, the Dwarka Expressway construction is creating disturbance for the birds,” Vivek Kamboj, an environmentalist said.

“My biggest concern is the high-rise buildings coming up in the surroundings. It will disturb the flying pattern of these birds and eventually they will avoid Basai,” Pankaj Gupta, a birdwatcher, said.

A study conducted by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has revealed that habitats across the region are under threat from unsustainable developmental practices being followed for decades.

“Flamingos and the common crane that were once commonly sighted in this wetland have declined in numbers. Also, the population of black francolin, the state bird of Haryana, has reduced owing to unfavourable alterations in its habitat,” the BNHS report stated.

Many threatened species of birds including the Marbled Teal, Sarus Crane, Black-necked stork and Asian dowitcher visit the area.

Amit Chaudhery, a naturalist, said that the rising insensitivity of people towards nature has added to the problem. “Rapid urbanisation is one of the reasons for the decline in bird population. Several Haryana water bodies, which used to attract migratory birds, have also dried up,” he said.

Some of the major reasons for the loss of biodiversity and habitat are destruction or disturbance from infrastructure development. “People have started fishing, forcing birds to stay away from the area,” Pankaj Gupta, a bird watcher, said.

According to an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), every state government needs to preserve natural wetlands from habitat loss to ensure sustainable resource use and control climate change.

Meanwhile, an official of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon said that the civic body is not aware of the encroachment in Basai wetland and will investigate the matter. “We will remove any kind of encroachment from the area. We want to preserve the wetland,” Sushir Singh Chauhan, senior town planner, said.

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