Ridge board asks Wildlife Institute to study Asola Bhatti’s biodiversity

Updated on Jul 26, 2022 02:19 AM IST

The committee had decided to award a study to WII on the impact of the inert material, for which a project proposal with a cost estimate of ₹27.82 lakh had been received last year.

Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

The ridge management board (RMB) has asked the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun to carry out a comprehensive study on the biodiversity of Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as prepare a management plan, after receiving a proposal in March 2021from the erstwhile South Delhi Municipal Corporation (now Municipal Corporation of Delhi) to dump inert material from landfill sites into three abandoned mining pits in the area.

The decision was taken in a recent RMB meeting, in which the board also gave clearance to a proposed office building of the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) which is partly situated in the morphological ridge, on the condition that there be no felling of trees during the construction.

According to the minutes of the meeting (MOM) which HT has seen, during the June 28, 2022 meeting it was decided to expand the scope of WII’s study, which was earlier scheduled to examine the impact of the inert material on the flora and fauna at Asola. “The proposal was initially placed before RMB in its meeting held on March 5, 2021, wherein the board directed that a committee may be constituted under the chairmanship of the chief conservator of forest (CCF) and chief wildlife warden (CWW) to ascertain the factual details regarding the inertness of the legacy waste, the effect on wildlife and ecology of the Sanctuary and the long-term consequences of the activity,” the minutes said, adding a committee was formed on April 7, 2021, with its first meeting held on July 29, 2021.

The committee had decided to award a study to WII on the impact of the inert material, for which a project proposal with a cost estimate of 27.82 lakh had been received last year.

“After discussing the proposal, the board was of the view that instead of carrying out a specific study limited to this particular project (dumping of inert material), a comprehensive study regarding the biodiversity of Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary and the preparation of a management plan should be conducted through WII Dehradun,” the minutes said, adding the study can also include suggestions on the possible uses of these mining pits.

“The forest department may write to WII to submit a revised proposal on these lines. The chairman emphasised that Wll should strictly adhere to the timelines as proposed in the study and the final payment should be released only after completion of the study and submission of the report,” it added.

The MCD has been looking to find a plot large enough to accommodate over 18 million tonnes of inert waste generated from Delhi’s three landfill sites since 2019, following bio-mining and bio-remediation efforts.

In the meeting, RMB also cleared a proposal for the construction of the office building of the DRI over a 6,200sqm area in Vasant Kunj, a plot of land allotted to DRI by DDA. While the area is a part of the morphological ridge, no trees are proposed to be felled in the project, with the RMB thereby clearing the project and recommending it further to the central empowered committee (CEC).

“After thorough deliberations in the RMB meeting, the board decided to recommend the proposal to CEC subject to the following conditions – first, the user agency shall deposit 5% of the project cost proportionate to the area within morphological ridge area to RMB fund, and second, there should be no tree-felling involved in the proposed construction, as informed by the user agency,” it added.

A senior forest official confirmed the commissioning of the study, stating it will ensure Delhi gets a clearer picture of the biological diversity at Asola. “This will provide figures and numbers to both flora and fauna there, along with a plan to protect it. The study is now not limited just to the impact of the inert being dumped,” the official added.

Prior to this meeting, the RMB, which gives clearances to any ridge-related projects, last met in December 2021.

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