Okhla bird sanctuary emptied of water, migratory birds lose natural abode

Because of official indifference, Noida's Okhla Bird sanctuary has been emptied of its water completely, in the season when migratory especially European birds start flocking in to this natural north Indian wildlife habitat.

As a result, both local as well as migratory birds have deserted this park, which has turned into a barren land for past 20 days. 

The sanctuary spread on 4.5 square km area on Yamuna Bank near Kalindi Kunj Barrage on Delhi-Noida border is home to 30 species of migratory birds that start thronging this place from mid-October to mid-November each season.

Right at the onset of birds' migratory season, the irrigation department opened all gates leading to sanctuary water emptying out. Local birds are on the verge of dying, say environmentalists.

"In the name of cleaning the barrage, UP irrigation dept had opened all gates at barrage to empty sanctuary of its water. They said because of late departure of monsoon this season, Barrage cleaning got late leading to loss of the sanctuary. We are unable to do anything because irregation dept controls barrage," said Ashok Kumar divisional forest officer (DFO), Gautam Budh Nagar, who admits suffering of the sanctuary and migratory birds.

Environmentalists, however, alleged officials in convince with realtors are working to kill this sanctuary so that they can easily construct buildings around it.

"I do not know when irrigation dept will close these gates and water again will stagnate in sanctuary. But birds can head to Surajpur bird sanctuary in Greater Noida, if things do not improve at Okhla soon," said DFO.

Most of the birds including migratory cannot survive without water for long said experts.

"If water is emptied for long, local birds will die a slow death," said TK Roy of Wetland International South Asia.
Migratory visitors like- Black-tail-godwit, Red shank and waders among other 3 species of birds, which had surprisingly arrived on October 2 are not spotted at Okhla.

UP irrigation dept officials refused to comment on the issue.

Generally, Okhla Barrage is cleaned once in a four years, and it was cleaned thoroughly last year too.

"I do not know what is the urgency to clean the Barrage now," said DFO.


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