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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Okhla Bird Sanctuary to get upgrade

The budget was revised several times and reduced to about Rs 50 crore and then to about Rs 14 crore. A total reduced budget of Rs 9.5 crore has finally been approved for the maintenance of the bird sanctuary.

noida Updated: Mar 25, 2019 04:55 IST
Snehil Sinha
Snehil Sinha
Hindustan Times, Noida
Both the Centre and the authority’s forest department have released a total of ₹1.66 crore as of now.
Both the Centre and the authority’s forest department have released a total of ₹1.66 crore as of now.(HT File Photo)
         

The Centre has approved the budget proposal of Rs 9.55 crore made by the Noida authority for upgrade and maintenance of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. The first instalment of funds from the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) as well as the state agency was released this week, officials said.

Both the Centre and the authority’s forest department have released a total of Rs 1.66 crore as of now. The funds will be used for habitat improvement in the sanctuary with better cleaning of water and the sanctuary area. Besides, a cafeteria and rest room will be set up. Also, golf carts will be bought for ferrying tourists, while plantation and sanitation will be improved.

The entry gate and the Interpretation Centre are some proposed infrastructure that are more cost-intensive, and will come up when more funds are released, officials said.

“We had submitted the proposal some time back and a meeting was held earlier this month to approve it. The cost is being shared wherein the ministry will provide Rs 5 crore and the authority will give Rs 4.55 crore. The ministry has released Rs 1 crore and the Noida authority has issued Rs 66 lakh. The work will begin after the general elections scheduled for April 11 in the district,” P K Srivastava, divisional forest officer, said.

The funding proposal for the bird sanctuary was revised multiple times in the past one year. Before a proposal was made last year, no funding had been given for the sanctuary for several years. Realising the need for maintenance, the forest department had submitted an ambitious plan earlier last year to revive the sanctuary at a cost of Rs 99 crore, turning it into a biotourism hotspot. While the proposal was approved by the state government as well as the Union ministry, enough funds were not available with any of the agencies to be sanctioned for the sanctuary.

Thereafter, the budget was revised several times and reduced to about Rs 50 crore and then to about Rs 14 crore. A total reduced budget of Rs 9.5 crore has finally been approved for the maintenance of the bird sanctuary.

Authority officials said that through September and October last year, the water hyacinth was cleared, the sanctuary was cleaned and painted, and the bamboo bridge was mended with the department’s internal budget. Besides, one of the watch towers was also repaired by the department. Over 25,000 birds were spotted during this winter, which, according to officials, is higher than what was seen in the past years.

“We saw more birds this winter than the previous three years for sure, as the sanctuary was in a shambles earlier. With the migratory birds gradually leaving, we will now have time for more maintenance before the next season begins. We hope the bird count will increase further next year,” Srivastava said.

First Published: Mar 25, 2019 04:55 IST

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