Centre offers green bounty for Greater Noida wetland
NOIDA: In a green gift for Gautam Budh Nagar on World Environment Day, the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has written to the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a proposal to declare Dhanauri, a large wetland in Greater Noida that sees thousands of birds every season, as a Ramsar site and Sarus sanctuary.
Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under strict guidelines. Dhanauri meets at least 2-3 of the nine criteria listed under the Ramsar Convention for a wetland to hold international protection status. Once approved, it will be the 28th wetland in India, and only the second from UP (after the Upper Ganga river), to be declared a Ramsar site.
An environmentalist based in Noida had earlier written to the state government and MoEF appealing to protect Dhanauri in Greater Noida as a Ramsar site. A reminder was also sent early in May seeking information on the action taken on the request.
Incidentally, the ministry’s order comes a week after an RTI was filed asking about action taken in the matter.
“…kindly take necessary action for submission of a proposal as per procedure of Ramsar Convention for declaring Dhanauri wetland as a Ramsar site and also declaring this wetland as a bird sanctuary,” states the letter from the ministry addressed to the principal secretary, Uttar Pradesh.
The forest department pegs the Dhanauri wetland area at 25 hectares, while environmentalists claim the total area, including the buffer zone, is over 40 hectares. However, Dhanauri does not have formal wetland status or protection. The forest department had sent a proposal last year to the state government to declare it a wetland, but no response has been received yet.
“I have been monitoring activities in Dhanauri for the past five years. There are at least 150-200 Sarus cranes and around 50,000 birds from 261 species can be spotted every season. Dhanauri meets 2-3 criteria to be listed as a Ramsar site,” said Anand Arya, an environmentalist who had sent a detailed proposal asking the ministry to declare Dhanauri as ‘Shri Ram Sarus Sanctuary and Balmiki Ramsar Wetland’.
He added that in the past five seasons, 30 nests of Sarus cranes have been spotted at Dhanauri, which has an estimated population of 150-200 of this bird. Several species of vulnerable, threatened, and even endangered species have been spotted.
The Ramsar Convention, one of the oldest international agreements to protect wetlands and prevent degradation of wetland habitat for water birds, was adopted in Iran’s Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. According to it, a wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities. Dhanauri has a large population of the Sarus crane that is listed as a vulnerable species.
Another criterion is that the wetland should regularly supports 20,000 or more water birds, which seems to be easily met at Dhanauri. The third criterion met by Dhanauri is that the wetland should regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of water bird. There are approximately 15,000 Sarus cranes globally according to the IUCN listing, while birders claim to have spotted more than 150 Sarus cranes at Dhanauri.
Other birders and environmental experts have also rallied to protect the site as a natural bird habitat, saying it has one of the richest birdlife in the area.
Divisional forest officer PK Srivastava said that the forest department had submitted a 14-page document in September 2018 explaining the importance of the Dhanauri wetland, the need for its conservation, along with current status and threats. The report mentions that wetlands in UP are facing conversion to farmlands and urban areas.
“Nowhere is this more visible than in NCR of western Uttar Pradesh where infrastructure needs for a rapidly-growing urban area is competing with the ability of the state to conserve wetlands. One specific wetland which has a strong conservation need is the Dhanauri wetland, situated in Greater Noida of Gautam Budh Nagar, which is a very important site for Sarus cranes,” stated the report.
Source : The Times of India