Basai marshland, a paradise for birds near Gurgaon, may dry out soon
With the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) laying underground drains from the Dhanwapur sewage treatment plant, and plugging leakages in the pipeline carrying treated water, the marshland in Basai is likely to dry up.
Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) senior town planner Sudhir Chauhan said leakage in the pipeline has flooded the Basai area since 2001.
Seepage from the drain and rainwater has been the main source of water for Basai’s low-lying areas where a permanent pool of shallow standing water spurred the growth of aquatic plants like water hyacinth as well as reed beds. With easy availability of food from the surrounding farmlands, the area became a paradise for birds, which gather in thousands every year attracting birding enthusiasts from across the globe.
“Work has been initiated to stop water from spilling into Basai. Soon, not a drop of water from the drain will go to Basai; the pipeline was damaged and was never repaired by Huda. Water from the damaged pipeline submerged the farmland in the area. Now, this drain is being diverted and concretised so that there is no leakage in future,” Chauhan said.
Birders, on the other hand, claim the region has been a birding site since much before that. “We have seen birds visiting the area even before 2001,” Abhishek Gulshan, a birder, said.
However, Basai is set to get a new look as the MCG wants to build a construction and demolition (C&D) waste treatment plant here. In May 2017, the MCG granted permission to a construction company to set up a C&D plant on a 3.5-acre plot. This plant is expected to treat over 500 tonnes of waste daily.
The source of water for the site has been a bone of contention for the agency since the NGO Delhi Bird Foundation (DBF) filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal stating that thousands of birds will lose their habitat if the C&D plant comes into the picture.
Officials in the know of the matter said that repairing the drain is a step towards drying the area so claims of Basai being a wetland, which needs protection as a birding site, can be countered.
Authorities are racing to dry out the area as DBF has appealed to the state government to notify Basai as a wetland, as directed by the National Green Tribunal. The NGT is also hearing a petition by the DBF seeking a stay on the project contending that the Basai wetland, though not declared as a wetland under the 2010 Wetland (Conservation & Management) Rules, is a valuable water body.
Ornithologists and birders are of the opinion that this development will affect the birding area as the main source of water will be blocked. “Earlier, the area was threatened because of large-scale urbanisation. Now with the underground drain, Basai wetlands will get no water from the sewage treatment plant. This will change the fate of the area,” Pankaj Gupta, a birder with the DBF, said.