Scrapping of GO 111 death knell for ecosystem, say environmentalists

HYDERABAD: Environmentalists and birders are up in arms against the state Cabinet’s decision to scrap the GO (government order) No. 111 to pave the way for undertaking construction activities within a 10-km radius of Himayatsagar and Osmansagar.

Expressing concerns over the adverse impact of polluting activities on biodiversity and natural lake habitats, environmentalists drew a parallel with the Ameenpur Lake, a declared biodiversity site which is engulfed in construction activities.

Birdwatchers said that developmental activities in the catchment areas of the twin lakes could limit the availability of suitable habitats for various bird species, causing habitat fragmentation and loss, and subsequently, adversely impacting biodiversity.

They also said it could disrupt natural ecological processes, such as nutrient cycling and pollination, which are key to ensuring good green health.

Ineni Kalyan, an IT professional who has been an avid birdwatcher for the past 10 years, said, “The loss of biodiversity not only disrupts the ecological balance but also has far-reaching implications for human well-being. For example, owls play a significant role in ecological systems and contribute to the overall balance and health of ecosystems in several ways. But, demolishing quarries and trees inshore areas of Osman Sagar and Himayatsagar lakes will lead to loss of their habitats.”

“Also, short-eared owls migrate great distances over the sea, across continents. This species is known to migrate to India from Europe and is usually sighted from November to March at Osmansagar. They are well suited to flatlands because of their rodent hunting and breeding habits. We may see a decline in their migration once high-rise, water-front buildings are constructed,” Kalyan said.

Experts also said that construction activities would be a matter of grave concern as blasting and tunnelling, coupled with shrinking lake areas, will impact birds and other species dependent on the aquatic ecosystem.

According to E Bird, an online database which records and documents bird distribution and habitat worldwide, 287 species of birds have been spotted at Osmansagar and 259 species of birds at Himayatsagar, including migratory birds.

Mohd Adnan Uddin, former assistant professor of political science at Osmania University and a birder for the past 11 years, said, “Osmansagar and Himayatsagar are important birding spots in Hyderabad. Not only do the lakes provide excellent habitat for the aquatic fauna but the entire periphery of the lakes hosts more than 250 species of birds that include several migratory birds coming through the Central Asian Flyway.

Resident endangered species like lesser Florican and Egyptian vulture have also been spotted around the lake. Smooth-coated otter, which is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, was also spotted in Himayatsagar in 2020.”

“Unfortunately, the pressures of urbanisation in the city have caused irreparable loss to the biodiversity of species in the city and scrapping of GO 111 will mark the final death knell of the already dwindling population of birds,” he said.

Birders stressed the need for conservation strategies and implementation of measures that would mitigate the negative effects on the ecosystem, by coming up with plans to prioritise the preservation and restoration of natural habitats.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story