A wetland stretching over 85 kms from Hapur’s Brijghat to Bulandshahr’s Narora area is facing severe threat due to illegal sand mining by locals and sand mafia, environmentalists said on Wednesday.
The wetland, which starts from Hapur’s Brijghat is located 70 km away from Delhi, and is home to Dolphins, Gharials, Crocodiles, six species of turtles, otters, 82 species of fishes and more than hundred species of birds.
A part of 26 wildlife sites of international importance, it has an area of 689,131 hectares.
Apart from the sand mining nuisance, sewage waste of Shimbhavli Sugar mills and milk industries is being dumped into this wetland without any treatment leading to damage to ecology, environmentalists added.
“Our national aquatic animal - river Dolphin is facing threat to its life because of waste dumping into Brijghat wetland in upper Ganga region. Sand, which acts as a filter for pollutants is being looted. All 26 sites of international importance are under threat because of indifference of the Center,” said Dr Sandeep Behra associate director of River Basins and biodiversity of WWF of India.
Environmentalists and social active locals have written several letters to environment ministry but all in vein.
“Major plant species, some of which have high medicinal values, include Dalbergia sissoo, Saraca indica, Eucalyptus globulus, Ficus bengalensis, Dendrocalamus strictus, Tectona grandis, Azadirachta indica and aquatic Eichhorina are found in this wetland. But its alarming that the Center is letting this natural wildlife habitat to die,” said Akash Vashsishtha of Hindustan Environment Group.
India on February 1, 1982, had signed a convention on wetlands of international importance, especially as waterfowl habitat.
“Indian prime minister promised to world under Ramsar agreement that it will protect 26 wetlands, which are called as Ramsar sites. Ramsar wetland also a protected site is located in Iran,” said Behra.
“Till 1990s, crocodiles chasing food would come to nearby villages located along Ganga river on which this wetland is located. But now after 2000 because of massive sand mining, wildlife habitat is on the verge of dying. Tales of Crocodiles and Dolphins are only tales now,” said Vashishtha.