Environment minister Prakash Javadekar. (File photo)
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar. (File photo)

Govt seeks help as bird droppings soil building

Those interested may visit the Indira Paryavaran Bhawan at New Delhi’s Jor Bagh between 3pm and to 4pm on all working days till July 16 to understand the site. The last date for submitting proposals is July 23
By Jayashree Nandi
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2021 06:27 AM IST

The Union environment ministry is facing a challenge but of garden variety—bird droppings soiling the courtyard of Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, which houses it, and is among India’s highest green-rated buildings. On Wednesday, the ministry invited proposals for solutions to the recurring problem of the droppings in the central courtyard of the building. Individuals or organisations that will offer the best solution will be awarded 1 lakh.

“Organisations/Institutes/companies/individuals having technical know-how and past experience may offer a solution, which is environment friendly, technically sound, implementable, operationally feasible, cost effective and that also ensures labour safety,” the ministry said in an advertisement published on its website. It added that the solution should not require structural alterations or compromise the essential features of the courtyard.

A committee of the environment ministry will shortlist the three best solutions. Those interested may visit the Indira Paryavaran Bhawan at New Delhi’s Jor Bagh between 3pm and to 4pm on all working days till July 16 to understand the site. The last date for submitting proposals is July 23.

“This is news to me. I had no idea that the ministry was calling for proposals to deal with bird droppings. Yes, there are a lot of birds here—pigeons, crows, parrots, and common mynah are very common. Maybe they are referring to the problem of pigeon droppings. To be honest, I have never been hit by a bird dropping at work,” said an environment ministry official, requesting anonymity.

Bird droppings are a common and persistent problem all over the city.

“Irresponsible feeding and provision of shelter have led to this problem. Our buildings provide great spaces for pigeons to nest. The lack of avian or other predators also removes an important source of population control. People should not be allowed to feed animals that are not directly under their care in public spaces. Indeed, feeding of wild animals is an offence under the Wildlife Act,” said Abi Tamim Vanak, a senior fellow at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment. Vanak added many cities around the world are now becoming more ecologically aware of this problem and impose strict penalties for feeding.

Nikhil Devasar, photographer, birder, and author, said: “You will see many apartment balconies, common areas of building complexes. They are all affected by this massive problem of bird droppings, specifically pigeon droppings. This has happened because pigeons can nest anywhere. They are extremely adaptable. They can be next on ledges, on air conditioner vents, on any concrete surface, even on pots.” Devasar said other birds cannot do that. “This is also happening because people feed birds, particularly pigeons. I do not see any solution to this problem.”

A legal advisor to the Animal Welfare Board of India, who did not want to be named, said they cannot stop feeding birds completely. “It is also an issue of animal rights and society’s relation with birds and animals. We have asked certain agencies to monitor feeding.”

According to Net Zero Energy Buildings, run by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and United States Agency for International Development, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan uses strategies for reducing energy demand by providing adequate natural light, shading, landscape to reduce ambient temperature, and energy-efficient active building systems. The Bhawan uses 70% less energy compared to a conventional building.

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