Uttar Pradesh forest department to notify only 25ha of Dhanauri wetland
The Uttar Pradesh forest department has decided to notify the Dhanauri wetland in Greater Noida’s Gautam Budh Nagar— one of the few wetlands supporting a fairly large sarus crane population. While this is cheerful news for birders and nature-lovers in the National Capital Region, the department’s plan is to recognise only 25 hectares of the wetland’s 100ha area.
The forest department’s plan, accessed by HT, states that Dhanauri is an extremely important site for sarus cranes, which has over eight breeding pairs of sarus cranes compared to four in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Dhanauri hosts a non-breeding sarus crane population of about 100 birds.
Along with a proposal to notify Dhanauri under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, the proposal states that the International Crane Foundation will initiate a documentation of annual variation in numbers and distribution of sarus Cranes. The documentation will give information on survival of sarus crane chicks hatching in Dhanauri and spatial movement of the species.
The proposal lists sarus cranes, pheasant-tailed jacana, baya weaver, green bee-eater, marsh harrier, ashy prinia and grey heron among birds thronging Dhanauri.
But the proposal states that the “zone of influence” (an area in which developmental activities are likely to induce adverse changes in wetland structure and functioning) of the wetland is 25ha and the active wetland area is only 4.24ha. However, the National Wetland Inventory and Assessment conducted by the Space Applications Centre in 2006-07 shows the wetland is spread over a 100ha area.
“We are trying to find a solution for this. Villagers may turn hostile if there is a restriction on several activities if a larger area is notified. Most of the area here is private and the value of real estate is high,” Pramod Kumar Srivastava, divisional forest officer, Greater Noida, said. A report by the Remote Sensing Applications Centre in Uttar Pradesh also shows that the total area is about 100ha.
Anand Arya, a birder and environmentalist who has been pursuing the notification of Dhanauri wetland for years, said “This wetland is the perfect place for sarus cranes. This is why at the roosting time a flock of about 150 sarus cranes can be seen here and 4-8 nests have been seen during 2015-2017 within the wetland itself. Dhanauri is also home to over 211 species of birds — 92 migratory and 119 resident species. Dhanauri also meets the criteria of a Ramsar wetland.” The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands recognises wetlands of international significance because of their conservation value.
Activists fear many other wetlands may not be notified in their entirety. The data on how many wetlands have been notified in the country is not available.
The Supreme Court had, in 2017, directed the Centre to “identify and inventorise” all 201,503 wetlands with an area of 2.25ha captured by satellite imagery.
“Dhanauri is part of the sarus crane belt connecting with Mainpuri and Etawah. It meets the criteria of an important bird and biodiversity site (IBA),” said Nikhil Devasar, birder and author. The sarus crane is listed in the “vulnerable” category by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)