Jayakwadi bird sanctuary faces threat from Paithan residents
Aurangabad, Aug 2 (UNI) The Jayakwadi bird sanctuary, situated about 50 km from here, faces threat from the Paithan residents, who till recently were proud of the sanctuary in their neighbourhood.
Jayakwadi, one of the biggest dams in the country, was constructed in 1973 and had soon started attracting over 200 different species of birds from across the world. Accordingly, the dam and Sant Dnyaneshwar Udyan, near the dam, was declared bird sanctuary in 1986.
However, confusion started after the forest department about two months ago proposed the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around Jayakwadi dam, following the Supreme Court directive, seeking the Maharashtra government's view on declaring ten km area surrounding wildlife sanctuaries to be ESZ.
The opposition to the sanctuary has grown to such an extent that about 2,000 women marched towards the tehsil office recently to register their protest against the ESZ and the sanctuary.
''We wanted to register our strong protest,'' said Rekha Kulkarni, general secretary of the district unit of the BJP, who led the woman's march on the issue.
The dam was originally meant to meet irrigation and drinking water needs of several districts of the region, said Sanjay Pannalal Papdiwal, who is among the activists spearheading campaign against the bird sanctuary.
''The sanctuary was welcome till the restrictions were limited to not harming the birds. If the ESZ comes into force, every one depending on the dam will be in trouble,'' he said.
According to another activist, Prasad Khisti, not a single piece of land belonging to the forest department was acquired for the dam.
It was built entirely on agriculture land, after displacing 118 villages.
However, the forest department officials and the Pakshi Mitra Mandal feel that there is no reason for Paithan residents to fear.
'' It is simply a proposal and not a single square meter of additional land would be required. It will not disturb the activities like silt farming,'' said the forest department officials.
According to Pakshi Mitra Mandal president Vijay Diwan, ''it was lack of communication between the authorities concerned and the residents that has resulted into confusion.'' If ESZ is introduced, only a few restrictions like use of chemical fertilizers will be banned. The farmers will be requested to opt for other crops instead of sugarcane and pollution causing factories would be banned. ''Use of chemical fertilizer on bank of the river is always harmful to even human beings,'' said Dilip Yardi, another office-bearer of the Pakshi Mitra Mandal. He is also member of the state's Wild Life Board.